2019 October 17
Anti-Corruption & News - Oct/17/2019 :: Zangezur factory pipe :: Lydian wins an Amulsar lawsuit -- former environmental inspector :: Other environmental news :: Constitutional Court chief's investigation -- HHK MP to Court chief :: Metro & Chopanughi :: Mayor bust :: Travel :: Foreign :: Plot Twist
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.
Zangezur Copper-Molybdenum factory's pipe exploded in the southern Syunik region, causing large quantities of pollutants to pour into the nearby Voghji river. The river turned white.
The Ministry of Nature and Ministry of Emergency examined the scene. The pipe owner begun sealing the leak it after keeping the leakage hidden from the authorities for a while. It was sealed shortly after the incident. Works are being done about a possible felony investigation.
Nature Minister confirmed that the leak was from a pipeline and not the mine operated by Zangezur factory.
Nature Minister Grigoryan:
The penalties for such violations are ridiculously low. Sometimes the companies get away with paying 500k for pollution. They why would rather pay the fine than implement safety measures. We're reviewing the laws. The penalty will be increased with an order of magnitude.
This particular pipeline travels dozens of kilometers. The factory has been asked to clean up their mess. These types of problems have happened routinely.
Video of the damaged pipeline
Nature Minister Grigoryan:
There are 44 abandoned mining areas in Armenia that need to be made safe again for human activities through rehabilitation (re-cultivation) of lands. We've prioritized 10. We'll work on obtaining money for this, this year.
There are former mining areas that are dangerous for humans to be there, yet some people have opened car wash businesses.
This is the first time the Ministry is doing such work.
Nature Minister Grigoryan about Amulsar mine:
We're still examining a report by ELARD regarding a new SHMAG land assessment.
Ministry contacted the Meteorologist institute of Armenia and confirmed ELARD's finding that an earlier reported evaporation numbers were inaccurate. This is also examined as part of the ongoing felony investigation done to find out whether the former government purposely hid environmental data to give Amulsar a green light.
12 concerns were submitted to the Prime Minister's office, based on the exams done by Ministry, ELARD and meteorologists.
The investigation continues.
(ELARD earlier concluded that if several safety measures are implemented and confirmed, the mine will be safe for operations. Its location will prevent leaks into rivers.)
Minister denied reports that he has worked for Amulsar miner in past. Says he has been informed about Amulsar mining operations from the beginning because he has a long record in the Nature examination field, and has worked in various international organizations such as World Bank, and has done reports about mining operations.
Speaking of Amulsar.
After the revolution, Pashinyan appointed an environmental activist Arthur Grigoryan (not to be confused with Minister Grigoryan) to lead the environmental inspection agency. He was fired few months later for "unsatisfactory work".
The disgruntled employee then begun accusing the govt of environmental inaction. Pashinyan responded saying that due to Grigoryan's irresponsible actions, Lydian Armenia was given a good legal case to sue the government. It was about Grigoryan allegedly inflating a report about nearby butterflies and other things.
(read Aug/20/2019 post for all details)
Today the Lydian revealed that the court sided with Lydian and overthrew nature inspector's 2018 order for Lydian not to conduct certain activities in Amulsar.
Court found that an independent analysis of inspector's findings countered the inspector's report. Court found that inspector should have recused himself from the investigation due to a conflict of interest, due to his past anti-Lydian activities.
Constitutional Court situation explained
Constitutional Court = CC
CC chief Hrayr Tovmasyan = HT (former HHK Justice Minister and MP)
In 2015, HHK passed an amendment to the Constitution despite a wide public criticism. It was scheduled to go into effect sometime in 2018.
The year is 2018. Shortly before the new Constitution became active, HHK decided to insert its MP HT as a CC member judge, and its chief. HHK was accused of rushing this process with the intention of hijacking the CC, because the new Constitution envisioned judges to serve shorter terms, while the old CC members (and HT) would serve lifetime.
A legal portal "iravaban" published a report in 2018, accusing CC chief HT of being illegally appointed as CC chief. Reporters released documents and claimed that HT was a HHK MP at the time of his appointment. For full details, read the articles below (or read my July/5/2019 post for the summary)
When the Kocharyan case reached the CC earlier this year, the CC became scrutinized for its ties to the HHK/Kocharyan regime. Chief HT was accused of being HHK's puppet, biased and politically motivated.
Independent MP Babajanyan (former LHK) recently contacted the law enforcement and reported HT and a group of officials for "illegally appropriating power" in 2018 (HT's rushed appointment as CC chief).
Today the SIS launched an investigation based on MP Babajanyan's report. The felony investigation is about violating Code 300.1m which is overthrowing the Constitutional order. This is the same Code that Kocharyan is charged with.
SIS visited HHK's office and confiscated documents relating to HT's membership as a HHK MP, as part of the investigation to check whether he was still an MP.
Another report recently revealed HT's property transactions in past. Questions arose about where he got money and how he obtained property for cheap.
HT's family members have been called to provide a testimony. Investigators visited HT's family house and asked HT's father about the financial methods that HT used to renovate the house
QP MP Aren Mkrtchyan says HT was first elected as a CC member before sending a note to Parliament chief Ara Babloyan to terminate his HHK MP status. Babloyan then terminated the status. MP says this process was a violation of the law.
Parliament is discussing other legal methods to solve the CC issue, said the MP.
HHK MP Ashotyan accused Pashinyan, "who illegally appropriated power in 2018", of persecuting HT. A BHK MP Gevorgyan said there are better things to do than to chase Hrayr Tovmasyan.
( CC is above the law?)
Few days ago the Parliament brought up 4 reasons why HT should be impeached from CC. They voted to send a petition to CC to have them organize a hearing.
The CC entirely rejected the petition, without organizing hearings and inviting Parliament to lay out their case in details. The CC was accused of bias and shielding HT.
CC's official reason for the rejection is that the 4 accusations against HT (HT's conflict of interest, violating court rules by not organizing importation hearings, etc) aren't "significant enough" to warrant an impeachment.
Full report inside https://armtimes.com/hy/article/171851
Informed Citizens election-monitor NGO chief and the chief of fact-check website FIP Daniel Ionisyan, and another reporter, had earlier sued now-former NSS chief Arthur Vanetsyan, accusing him of committing a felony.
The reporter wrote an article about Vanetsyan's family owning a flower business. Vanetsyan didn't like some of the details of the article and accused the report of being false.
Plaintiff claimed that instead of Vanetsyan sending them the complaint via regular communication method, Vanetsyan used an official NSS resource to send his complaint. Plaintiff argued that this was a felony because of improper resource use, and it appears as Vanetsyan was using NSS to pressure the reporter.
An investigation by SIS concluded that no felony was committed by Vanetsyan.
Plaintiff didn't like SIS's findings and took the case to court. Today the court confirmed there was no felony by Vanetsyan, regarding the use of NSS memo to complain about the report.
Justice Ministry has launched a program to increase the food quality for prison inmates. Nubarashen prisoners are receiving it form a private firm now. Minister Badasyan hopes this will ease the financial burden on inmate's families who would often buy food for their relatives in prison.
Update: Earlier 23 kids got a food poisoning after buying food from their school cafeteria. Inspectors begun examining the others schools. They found safety violations in every school of Artsashat.
Parliamentary committee rejected a BHK bill that would increase penalty for driving on the opposite lane, from AMD 30k to around AMD 8 million (150x of minimum wage).
Justice Ministry argued that the penalty is disproportionate and the research shows that violations like these aren't dropped just because the penalty is increased.
Yerevan municipality earlier said they'll open a new metro station and build a new aerial tramway (chopanughi) in Yerevan.
The preliminary work is in the final stages. The proposed projects will be submitted for a public review soon. Chief architect Arthur Meschyan says they've already decided chopanughi's route. "Both projects have attracted investors", said a QP member of municipality board Izabella Abgaryan.
Police says they busted Dilijan mayor with corruption.
The mayor made a decision in 2006 to lease a government building for 40 years to a private firm for only 1.3mln, with a condition that the firm would renovate the building.
30 days before the auction, the mayor colluded with city's financial department chief and registered a business under the chief's daughter's name. The firm then won the rigged auction.
The firm failed to renovate the building but continued to milk the tenant businesses. At the moment there is an evidence of 73.2mln embezzlement.
Felony investigation continues.
Government held a session
The govt earlier promised to spend money to repair the neglected sports center named after Armenian world-champion wrestler Arthur Alexanyan. Today the govt gave 24mln to launch the preparation work. The main repairs will begin in late-2020.
Govt gave 444mln to renovate several schools and sports centers in provinces.
Govt will receive $10mln from a French development institute. $8.5mln to be spent by Ministry of Economy to do some projects. $1.5mln to be spent on Ministry of Infrastructure on 10 agricultural programs. 2,000 hectare land's infrastructure will be refreshed.
The govt approved a EAEU trade bloc rule change regarding how the pensions are calculated and paid.
Currently, if you work in country X then move to live in country Z, the country Z will pay your pension for the years you worked in both X and Z.
After 2021, the EAEU states will split the load. Country X will pay for the years that the person worked while in country X, even if the person moves to live in country Z.
The govt instructed Nature Ministry to clean up Sevan Lake near cities of Sevan, Martuni and Vardenis.
The budget for cleaning up Sevan Lake in 2020 has been multiplied several times. All restaurant businesses on the shores of Sevan will be issued a deadline to install water filtering stations to reduce pollution.
You can already buy $56 Ryanair tickets to Rome. Civil Aviation had a big role in the negotiations. We agreed that any route that hasn't been served in the past 12 years, will have the air tax waivered, to invite companies to launch flights through these routes. Any airline company can receive this tax waiver. This is going to make big changes in the industry.
Pashinyan took a swipe at those who were accusing the Civil Aviation of "wasting resources" for flying to EU to meet Ryanair for negotiations. "We shouldn't pay attention to meaningless noise", said Pashinyan before thanking Civil Aviation chief Tatevik Revasyan for her work.
HHK media outlets seem to be upset that they couldn't strike this deal in 2015. Some opposition figures also claimed that the state is paying Ryanair to fly these routes. PM's spokesman denied giving funds to Ryanair, saying that tax waiver incentives are the only benefits they get.
Flights from Russia to Armenia have increased by 25% versus 2018. The ticket price is down 18%.
Russian visitors accounted for 11.3% of visitors in the Autumn.
Nzhdeh is the new Soros*
Earlier, Russian MFA Lavrov criticized Pashinyan for saying "Artsakh is Armenia, Period.", saying that it didn't contribute to the Artsakh negotiations. Armenian MFA reminded OSCE members to preserve their neutrality.
Today the Russian MFA was asked to comment Aliyev's speech that "Artsakh is a historical part of Azerbaijan". The Russian MFA didn't criticize it, saying they can't comment on what Aliyev meant.
Russian MFA was asked to comment the statue of Armenian hero Garegin Nzhdeh installed in Krasnodar, Russia in 2012 by an Armenian church. Azeris are trying to remove it with a help of a high ranking Russian parliament official Leonid Kalashnikov.
(Leonid Kalashnikov, a member of the Papers Please Communist Party, is still mad that Garegin Nzhdeh fought against the Bolshevik invasion of Armenia.)
The Russian MFA commented saying that their opinion remains the same about the Nzhdeh's topic (which is they criticize Nzhdeh and his statues).
US VP Mike Pence has agreed with Turkey to suspend the military operations in Syria. Pence says Kurdish militias have agreed to move 30KM south of the border with the help of US. The US won't implement sanctions against Turkey as a result. Donald Trump has thanked Erdogan for the agreement.
Armenia has been elected as a member of UN Human Rights Council for 2020-2022. It received 144 votes from 193.
"Committed to work hard and cooperating with all our partners in promoting the #humanrights agenda", said FM Mnatsakanyan.
CBS aired a TV show "Seal Team" depicting a group of US special forces preparing a military operation in Azerbaijan, against Iranian and ethnic Armenian forces.
Towards the end, the Seal realizes that Armenians are not their enemies and that they were fighting against Iranian mercenaries, because they identify an enemy drone being Iranian.
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/djckok/anticorruption_news_oct172019_zangezur_factory/
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