2019 October 28
Anti-Corruption & News Summary - Oct/28/2019 :: Faster & Easier passports for ethnic Armenians :: October 27 terror attack & events :: HHK; Mayor; City Official - charged :: No visa w/Serbia :: Tovmasyan details :: SOC vs NSS vs Nemets Rubo vs Hrazdan stadium :: Money & Business :: Police reform ::
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.
The Justice Ministry wants to expedite the process of issuing citizenship to ethnic Armenian diasporans. The process duration will go from 6 months down to 3 months, if approved.
Ethnic Armenians wouldn't have to visit Armenia to get the passport. They could visit a local embassy or consular.
This will immediately affect 20,000 passport applicants who have a difficulty visiting Armenia.
Ministry also wants amend laws to end the practice of terminating citizenship for naturalized citizens due to their inability to meet certain criteria for naturalized citizens, citing it as Unconstitutional.
Serbia has canceled the visa regime with Armenia. Armenians can enter and stay in Serbia freely for 90 days.
Georgia lost $350mln because of the travel ban with Russia that begun 5 months ago.
Update: Russian court earlier prohibited low cost Pobeda airlines (Gyumri airport flights) from collecting some fees in Russia. Company said they'll just raise ticket prices by $25 to substitute the revenue loss. They now say the tickets will only rise $5.
Armenian and Bulgarian MFA met and signed memorandum to improve transportation and establish direct Yerevan-Sophia flights.
Armenia had a booth in Beijing Expo 2019 and presented wine, agricultural produce, sweets, culture etc. It stayed open for half a year straight.
30,000 people visited it very day. Armenia won a gold award during the closing ceremony. The expo hosted 110 countries and 9.3mln people.
Vanadzor city celebrated its birthday. A new statue of General Andranik Ozanyan was installed on Zoravar Andranik Street. The new fountains with laser effects were displayed.
City's history https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/172488
Yerevan municipality recently created the Active Citizen online portal where citizens register to submit and vote for project ideas.
700 ideas were submitted. 204 were selected and placed for a vote. 4,000 verified residents so far signed up to participate. You have 10 days to vote.
The portal uses ֆենսի blockchain to verify the votes submitted by participants.
The projects will be implemented in 2020. Annual budget 500mln.
Yerevan municipality will pick 3 playgrounds in each district and make them safer by installing rubber grounds, replacing the asphalt and sand. Next year they'll double the budget.
The police will reform the way it fights against some crime and help the citizens.
A new patrol force will be created. Trained policemen will travel around and do some work on the scene, investigate disputes about property rights, etc. They'll sometimes take a testimony from a person on the spot, presumably without having the person visit a police station.
NSS released a statement about an investigation which involves HHK Justice Minister and current CC (Constitutional Court) chief Hrayr Tovmasyan.
NSS audited the Justice Ministry and caught several high ranking officials with abuse of power between 2011-2015.
Govt issued a permit to a construction firm to do 870mln worth repairs on a building in Center District, on a school, and on Abovyan Penitentiary facility.
In exchange, the firm would be allowed to claim part of the building as its own, do some construction there and build new floors.
Justice Ministry officials forged documents to claim the required repairs were done by the firm. This has resulted in the firm receiving its benefits without doing the work.
Moreover, a Justice Ministry official met the construction firm's director and demanded for the latter to give some construction materials to Justice Ministry official's family (presumably Tovmasyan's father) so the latter could do some personal work.
In a separate instance, another Justice Ministry official was registered in multiple positions but worked in one place, embezzling 1.8mln from the budget.
A felony investigation is still ongoing. No official names are released.
(Earlier NSS wanted to check Tovmasyan's father's house to see if the construction materials were used there. The family refused to allow NSS to check the house roof.)
HHK rushed its MP Hrayr Tovmasyan into CC just in time before new Constitution's implementation. HHK Parliament official Babayan was charged with forgery and aiding to appropriate power.
Today the prosecutors pressed felony charges against HHK speaker Ara Babloyan for aiding the process. He signed the allegedly forged docs at the time. Babloyan is told not to leave Armenia.
(for details, read my previous posts using search in this subreddit, or check out the archive links above. )
European Union does not have any comments about the ongoing case against Hrayr Tovmasyan. They're monitoring the situation.
SOC is auditing NSS for the past 2 years of work.
NSS acting chief denied the Roboserj media outlet rumors that they have a plan to arrest the former NSS chief Arthur Vanetsyan. Says the audits aren't related to Vanetsyan's resignation in September.
When the police raided the Soccer Federation (HFF) office few weeks ago, some outlets spread rumors that former NSS chief Arthur Vanetsyan (current HFF chief) was the target.
Later it turned out the police was auditing HFF's work under the former HFF chief oligarch Ruben Hayrapetyan (Nemets Rubo).
Before the 2009 Armenia-Turkey soccer match took place, UEFA gave HFF $2.7mln to renovate the Hrazdan stadium. The money was officially supposed to be transferred to Hrazdan stadium's owner Ashot Aghababyan.
Aghababyan says HFF hijacked the money and never told him that the money was meant for Hrazdan. HFF, led by Nements Rubo, allegedly used Nemets' businesses to do some work.
When asked about why he didn't raise an alarm at the time, Aghababyan said that during Serj's administration Nemets Rubo was untouchable and was allowed to do whatever he wanted.
Nemets Rubo is not in Armenia. Says he has health issues and can't comment on the story.
Current HFF chief Vanetsyan says they've submitted relevant docs to authorities.
The Spice of the day award goes to...
A Roboserj judge is overseeing a QP prosecutor vs QP official trial.
Former SOC chief Sanasaryan (and few colleagues) is charged with, either deliberately or through professional negligence, aidiring a specific medical company to win a license. Sanasaryan denies, saying SOC was breaking an existing monopoly. The monopoly claim was later verified by SIS, but NSS kept the case against him because they suspected he was still promoting the firm.
The judge is Davit Balayan. His father Kim Balayan used to be in the Constitutional Court and gave Kocharyan a favor by helping to declare the 2008 presidential elections valid, per leaked diplomatic US documents, which was followed by Kocharyan giving Balayan's family members high ranking positions. Kim's big son was and is still in Foreign Ministry (famous guy, might have seen him, not necessary a bad person fyi).
The little son Davit is a judge. Last year he released Manvel Tushonka Grigoryan from jail, before another court sent Manvel back.
In 2019 Davit Balayan tried to forcefully bypass the crowd who surrounded the court buildings in a protest.
Anyhow, judge Davit Balayan is now overseeing the SOC case. He asked both sides if they want him to recuse himself, citing info that in past he visited an international lawyer conference during which he met one of defendant lawyers.
Another recusal offer is about the judge's nephew being the former director of Oncology institute, who was recently fired by minister Torosyan (Sanasaryan's foe) after a foreign medical firm presented info of him and Serj regime doing a business shakedown.
Neither sides wanted a recusal, finding that the judge isn't friends with defendant and prosecution.
Defense begun presenting its case. Sanasaryan says NSS crossed the legal line while investigating him. Judge refused to separate Sanasaryan's case from the other SOC employees.
Court will invite several SOC employees as witnesses during the next session.
A judge in Kotayk is facing an investigation, after a 911 ambulance with sirens asked him to yield the road, but the judge got out of his car and caused an argument. Report says he pointed his gun at the ambulance. The judge says he carried a gun but didn't point it any anyone. Supreme Court is investigating.
The new Constitutional Court judge Vahe Grigoryan has been boycotting the court sessions because of internal problems and his interpretation of old and new constitutions.
Some MPs aren't happy that he is skipping sessions. BHK wants to possibly remove Vahe Grigoryan from CC.
Yerevan's Shengavit district's former manager is arrested and will face embezzlement charges for stealing 3.3mln and mishandling 25mln from a Shengavit Charity Foundation between 2012-2017, say investigators.
Aparan mayor is charged with felony for knowingly allowing a landlord to build and illegal structure on a land in 2017, say investigators. Last week the Ijevan mayor got busted in a similar fashion.
General prosecutor Arthur Davtyan will challenge Kocharyan authorities' decision that arrest several March 1st protesters for allegedly resisting police officers near the Opera building.
At the time, the court sentenced them to 2-3 years. Appeals court upheld the verdict. The Cassations court refused to hear the case.
Today the general prosecutor says they found significant violations in the court conduct, against European human rights conventions. Research showed that no evidence of wrongdoing by one of the defendants was ever submitted to court. Defendant witnesses weren't allowed to appear in court.
General prosecutor has filed a case with Cassations court to overturn their convictions.
NSS busted several public officials with falsifying docs related to tech inspection of gas canisters for various businesses, between Jan-2018 to Oct-2019.
Sunday marked the 20th anniversary of 1999 Parliament terror attack. Nairi Hunanyan and family members stormed the Parliament session, killed PM Vazgen Sargsyan and others.
IND MP Babajanyan says the families of victims have expressed willingness to meet him. Babajanyan is an outspoken critic of Kocharyan regime and has long claimed that the Oct27 investigation was purposely derailed and evidence was covered up.
Some family members also claimed that the state changed its prosecutors during the trial at some point, and did everything not to investigate whether the attack was coordinated or incited by people outside of the immediate perpetrators. (see previous post for details and family interviews)
The attack https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/172517
Defense Minister Tonoyan:
I think the Oct27 case is solved . There are people behind bars. https://youtu.be/gY13p7Ososc
ARF Artsvik Minasyan:
The govt is trying to make a deal with Nairi Hunanyan to get him out of prison in exchange for receiving a certain info from him. It's unacceptable.
Journalist: Nairi Hunanyan was an ARF member and he visited Turkey before the attacks. There are theories about Turkish intelligence agencies and the connection with Oct27. Comment?
Artsvik Minasyan: let the investigators investigate if they want to.
Vazgen's brother Aram Sargsyan:
Oct27 investigation should be carried out when the justice system is reformed and ready. I don't think the case is fully solved.
QP Sasun Mikaelyan:
Former deputy-prosecutor cheif Gagik Jhangiryan (arrested after opposing Kocharyan during March 1st) was going to make a statement about Oct27 after examining Nairi Hunanyan's files, but Kocharyan prohibited him with a written order. Jhangiryan should speak up now. It's time for Oct27 case to be solved. If it's not solved there is a risk it'll repeat. (բերանտ խերով բաց)
Former Defense Minister Vagharshak Harutyunyan:
I see a connection between Oct27 and the power struggle within Armenia, and also with the Meghri Plan.
Before May 2nd, when other govt members and I were the ones overseeing the Nairi Hunayan case, Hunanyan made it clear there were organizers behind the attack. But after May 2nd he changed the course and took it all on himself.
Oct27 terror attack events:
6 perpetrators led by Nairi Hunanyan (NH) storm the Parliament with Kalashnikovs. NH calls ARF high ranking MP Hrant Margaryan after the attack, and tells him to bring AJM MP Vazgen Manukyan with him to the Parliament building. Hrant Margaryan tells Kocharyabn about this.
HN then demands Kocharyan to visit Parliament and to grant him access to live TV broadcast. They ended up agreeing for a different deal. They met Kocharyan in a separate room and transferred their message to media through non-live means.
HN and the others then gave up the weapons and turned themselves in. 5 of them got a live sentence, 1 got 14 years. 4 have died in prison.
Who are some people connected to the case?
Alexan Harutyunyan was Kocharyan's chief of staff. He was arrested after NH testified that Harutyunyan was part of the terror group and helped to organize it. The arrest was lifted and he was set free shortly afterwards, because NH was the only person who testified against him. (LOL)
Alexan Harutyunyan then joined NSS, before becoming a president's aide. Since 2014 he served as ambassador in various countries.
In 2016 he was part of Serj's deputy chief of staff, until April-18-2018.
Hrant Margaryan was the high ranking ARF official whom NH called. Margaryan had previously ordered NH to be removed from ARF ranks. Margaryan was told not to meet NH in-person. Margaryan is still an ARF politician.
Gagik Jhangiryan was the military prosecutor who begun investigating the case. (at the time Defense Minister made an order to transfer investigation to military prosecution due to no confidence in other structures)
At the time he was accused of deliberately omitting certain info from the case. He served until 2006 until he he became deputy (non-military) general prosecutor.
In 2008 Jhangiryan broke the alliance with Kocharyan and joined Levon Ter-Petrosyan. During the March 1st events, he publicly urged president Kocharyan to allow him to solve the Oct27 case without an obstruction. Shortly afterwards, he was arrested under the suspicion of beating a policeman. (conviction overturned very recently)
Jhanginryan has kept insisting that Kocharyan administration prevented him from solving the Oct27 case.
Tigran Naghdalyan was public TV's chief. He had ties with Kocharyan and was a key witness in the case. He was murdered in 2002 with a bullet to the head.
Kocharyan's prosecutors arrested Oct27 victim PM Vazgen Sargyan's brother Armen Sargsyan as a suspect, who allegedly ordered Naghdalyan's murder (carried out by someone else), because TV-boss Naghdalyan allegedly edited NH's Parliament invasion video tape in some way. Armen Sargsyan denied ordering the hit.
The govt and the probation board have both refused to release Nairi Hunanyan.
Earlier he signed a petition after spending 20 years in prison and qualifying for a probation hearing. He cannot challenge it in court.
Minister of Economy: There are currently 61 investment plans being discussed, totaling $3bln. Most of the plans were made after the 2018 events. 45 are deemed as highly likely to succeed, the rest is too early to tell. Around 15% of projects is already being implemented. Largest projects are $250mln, $100mln and $50mln.
Manufacturing: 14 projects worth $997mln.
Construction: 15 projects worth $906mln.
Energy: 5 projects worth $435mln.
Healthcare: 2 worth $10mln
Tourism: 5 worth $215mln
Agriculture: 7 worth $138
IT: 4 worth $54mln
Infrastructure and logistics: 4 worth 170
Services: 2 worth 3.5
Beverage: 2 worth 10
Pharmacy: 1 worth 59
Largest interest comes from Russia, US, France, Germany UAE and Iran.
As for the separate practice of govt giving various tax waivers for businesses to invest, since revolution there have been 106 such investment projects with 649bln investment plans and 6538 job places.
26 of those investment projects received a 3-year tax waiver, in the past 1.5 years alone. Since 2009 there have been 130 such projects 3-year waiver projects.
Usually, when a negative development happens in a country, it negatively affects investments right away. On the other hand, a positive change takes time to convince investors to come. "We need some time to see more results", said deputy Economy Minister Arman Hovnanyan.
Minister of Finances met the German ambassador and spoke about investments. Ambassador said some German firms are interested in textile and tourism fields, and Ryanair entry to Armenia will help it.
From July-2020 The govt will raise 1st baby aid from 50k to 300k, second baby aid from 150k to 300k.
The babysitter service subsidy goes from 18k to 25.5k.
Pashinyan used the opportunity to brag about giving 200,000 workers a raise through lowering tax brackets, a 10% military raise, a 30% raise for firefighters and emergency, forest protection workers a 20k raise, a 10% pension raise since next year, etc.
2020 vs 2018 budget stats
27.4% higher budget revenues. Expenditure up 29.9%.
Healthcare up 33%.
Education (includes sport and culture) up 41%.
Social affairs up 21%.
Police force up 0.7%.
Emergency ministry up 17%.
Current regulations mandate the military budget to not exceed 4% of GDP, and we'll remain in that range. However, more anti corruption money will be used towards army. Said Pashinyan.
Debt-to-GDP ratio to improve by lowering to 49.2%, being $7.3bln. The GDP growth in 2020 could be up to 8% but more likely around 4.9% based on probability calculations , predicted Economy Minister. The GDP growth could increase up to 9% by 2022.
PM noted that a 4.8% growth was predicted in 2018 but they finished it with 5.2%. World Bank has earlier increased growth predictions for 2019 and 2020.
Armenian foreign reserves rose by $250mln vs 2018 period. Central Bank says they changed some mandatory reserve rules which resulted in $300mln injection into the economy through banks.
Consumer price index rise was 1.6%. "This number is reassuring the economists", said Pashinyan.
Exports and imports to go up by 11% and 7% respectively (these are all predictions).
Top 1000 largest taxpayers paid 13.5% more money in taxes in 2019 vs 2018 period. Their payments account for 71% of all taxes.
Details inside https://hetq.am/hy/article/109160
American Xalinx tech semiconductor manufacturer has opened a branch in Armenia. They'll cooperate with universities to create research projects.
20 employees now, 50 by 2020, 200 by 2023.
Globally they have 5,000 workers and $3bln revenues.
Arpine Dalayan wins gold in U20 European Weightlifting.
Varazdat Lalayan, Simon Martirosyanwins, Samvel Gasparyan win gold in U20 & U23 European weightlifting.
Armenian teams are back from the European weightlifting, with 35 big and small medals.
Soccer is finally interesting in Armenia. (official statement: fact-checked)
National team and Pyunik player Eric Vardanyan got his shirt pulled by the opponent during a struggle. He didn't like it and punched the opponent in the head during the struggle.
When the referee approached the scene, he chest bumped the referee. Got a red card. Begun cussing at the referee and had to be pulled away by teammates to prevent a physical fight. He then showed double middle fingers to opponent fans while leaving the pitch.
Thank you Eric. Very cool. 👏
Update: fixed typos about Alexan Harutyunyan.
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/doejdw/anticorruption_news_summary_oct282019_faster/
|2018 Daily Armenia Reports|
|2019 Daily Armenia Reports|
|2020 Daily Armenia Reports|