2019 October 3
Anti-Corruption & News Summary - Oct/3/2019 :: Forest land appropriation busts -- frmr high ranking officials charged :: Sanitek vs Yerevan :: Army, drone strike, shootings :: Parliament vs Constitutional Court chief - Roasting :: Anti-Corruption in 3 years :: Roads :: Transparency :: Food employees
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.
An Armenian civilian was wounded and a contractor soldier was killed by Azeri fire on the northern Tavush border of Armenia. The civilian was driving a truck tractor.
Army spokesman says "it won't go unanswered".
The border conflict escalated after Azeris organized a failed infiltration attempt, sustaining 2 deaths.
Army has resealed a sneak-peek video showing an Armenian combat drone strike, during exercises.
Another training video from ongoing exercises.
Govt approved a 40-day plan to organize re-training and education for hundreds of army reservist officers. They'll be taught with various combat abilities. This is separate from the ongoing military exercises.
Russian MFA Lavrov: saying "Artsakh is Armenia. Period" doesn't help with the restoration of peace negotiations.
Armenian MFA: Armenia supports OSCE and its balanced nature. We urge its member states not to make one-sided statements. Azerbaijan's demands that the resolution should be based solely on their "territorial integrity" does not contribute to peace negotiations.
Yerevan mayor Marutyan has finalized the legal paperwork to cancel the contract with garbage collector Sanitek, saying that since 2017 the company was unable to do its duties and doesn't have the mandated insurance.
5 more garbage trucks have arrived today, purchased by the city. 15 more will arrive soon. 1000 metal and thousands of more plastic garbage bins will arrive. Last year they bought 9 snow plow trucks. More will arrive before this winter.
City created it's own garbage collector agency as a substitute to Sanitek earlier this year. It isn't decided whether city will hire a new private firm, or continue to cleanup on it's own.
Upon receiving the termination news, Sanitek announced they'll take the city to court.
QP earlier brought 4 conflict of interest and other reasons why they think Constitutional Court (CC) chief Hrayr Tovmasyan (HT) should have his chairmanship terminated.
1) Serj congratulated Kocharyan 4 days before CC made the verdict that was viewed as favorable for Kocharyan. Serj's message indicated that HHK uses its assets to help Kocharyan. (HHK knew the results ahead of time because their man HT "knew what to do")
2) HT and Kocharyan's lawyer are godfather and godson. HT failed to properly bring this up before the recent Kocharyan hearings.
3) HT, before becoming a court member, used to say that March 1st events were shameful and that the Roboserj govt should drop the legal cases against protesters. After becoming a HHK member, HT changed his view, calling the regime's measures "justified".
4) CC has a rule that says when an external petition is accepted (for example: from Kocharyan's lawyers), the CC has to organize a hearing and allow its members to say whether they have a conflict of interest and won't be able to make a fair judgement. HT violated this rule.
Today the Parliament held a session to discuss HT's chairmanship. HT decided not to participate in the Parliament meeting, criticizing it as a political move, and accusing Pashinyan of directing a mob against the court earlier.
QP MP Zoloyan:
Are there reasons to believe HT is biased and unfair? Yes. His history shows he is part of the former govt and one of its key actors. Not everyone would be trusted by HHK to write a new Constitution.
There is currently a case in CC regarding the former govt. Can that govt's key player be a fair judge? HT hasn't done anything to address our concerns. There are very few people here who can say they trust HT with being fair. Today we're starting a process (to request CC to remove HT as chairman) that is within Parliament's rights.
QP MP Alen Simonyan:
It's not good that HT didn't come to this session. It's also disrespectful that he singled out BHK while apologizing for not arriving to answer questions. It's also bad that HT is viewing himself as "THE" CC, because this resolution is about HT himself and the not the court. (HT earlier made comments about him being the checks-and-balance)
Court members must have trust in the eyes of the public. HT doesn't, because he wrote a Constitution for Serj in a way to let Serj reproduce his regime. Public won't trust his verdicts. HT was devil's advocate, the executioner of the regime's projects.
QP MP Suren Grigoryan:
We need to figure out what is Court Member and Court Judge.
There are reasons why one will justifiably question HT's ability to make a fair decision in regards to March 1st and Kocharyan. 4 reasons:
1) HT's ties to HHK, Serj and Kocharyan. We aren't saying that a former HHK MP can't become a CC member, but it raises a conflict of interest question when the said former-MP has to hear cases related to his team. The CC member has to recuse from such cases.
HT has held various high ranking political positions since 2010: HHK Justice Minister, Chief of Staff of Parliament, HHK MP, Chairman of the committee of legal affairs, etc.
2) HT is the godfather of Kocharyan's lawyer, yet HT didn't properly disclose it and didn't hold a session to discuss whether he should recuse himself from Kocharyan related cases, before the recent hearing.
3) HT has expressed personal opinions about March 1st in past. Before becoming a HHK MP and Minister, he was saying that March 1st events were shameful and govt should drop cases against protesters. After becoming HHK, HT criticized the protesters and said the govt's response was fully legal.
4) Before starting the hearings of the case brought to CC by Kocharyan team, HT failed to hold a session to find out whether judges can't participate in Kocharyan hearing due to conflicts.
QP speaker Mirzoyan: HT's appointment as CC chief was the raping of the Constitution.
For over 20 years, illegal pressure was done on elections. Simultaneously, attempts were made to overthrow Constitutional order (referring to March 1st case). The rigged elections allowed several families to own the whole industry and to prevent competition. These rigged elections allowed embezzlement of budget, army, etc. Widespread distrust by the public. HT would be in the top-5 list of the former regime's lawyers. (HT has been accused of allowing Rob and Serj to verify rigged elections)
HHK rushed HT's appointment as CC chief before the new Constitution came into effect, so HT could serve as CC's chief for 35 years instead of 6-12 years, as regulated by new Constitution.
(Mirzoyan then lists the aforementioned 4 reasons as to why HT is too biased as a chairman)
Things done by HT in recent times was a deliberate attempt to cover up crimes by the former regime and to serve the former regime. HT has a political bias and cannot be CC's chief. He could become a politician if he wants to.
QP MP Sisak Gabrielyan:
Some of my colleague MPs in this room could be great judges, but if I ever appear on front of them as a plaintiff/defendant, they should not hear my case because of close ties.
When Kocharyan got arrested, HT's godson Orbleyan, who is Kocharyan's lawyer, was the first one to talk about Kocharyan's immunity. He claimed to have visited CC to meet his godfather HT, before these verdicts. (no hard proof it was about the case, the MP is pointing out the close ties and a conflict of interest)
LHK to QP:
We will vote in favor of this resolution. We respect your concerns. We don't think it political.
BHK to QP and LHK: we don't want you to think that our neutral stance is a support to HT. We're spoken against HT in past.
Independent MP Babajanyan went a step further:
The problem isn't just HT. We need to pull every verdict made by CC after 2003, 2004, 2008, 2013 electoral processes, to examine the court members' affiliation, their conduct before, during and after the verdicts, and the events that were happening simultaneously, such as govt's physical attacks on opposition parties' offices. We also need to examine whether CC members have corrupt ties with former govt members. A new court is needed.
MP Babajanyan also sent a report to Parliament asking it to investigate a possible violation of a law done during HT's appointment. Earlier it was revealed that HT was appointed as CC chief while he was still a HHK MP, which many saw as a violation of the law.
The secret vote will be cast tomorrow. 80 votes or 3/5th of MPs are needed to pass.
As part of the upcoming institutional anti-corruption changes, NSS will get stronger, with more capabilities to protect national security. The police will strengthen to protect public security.
NSS's role kind of shifted towards anti-corruption lately, but after the reforms, the anti-corruption institute will take care of corruption while NSS will have more time on national security. There will be a 3-year transitional period during which NSS will work with the new institute to "teach them how it's done".
PM and Minister of Emergency then argued whether Armenia has enough resources to turn NSS into something like CIA.
Minister: do we have resources for that?
PM: Armenia is big enough to have resourced for that.
Minister: Too soon, it's a complicated thing.
WHO WON? WHO'S NEXT? YOU DECIDE.
In 2021 there will be 3 investigative institutes: Investigative Committee, Special Investigations Service, Anti-Corruption Committee. The anti-corruption committee workers will be vetted to make sure they don't have a shady past, and will receive good salaries.
Prosecutor's office could have an anti-corruption sub-division.
On agenda: courts specialize in anti-corruption, revamp the system that handles public officials' property declaration.
The govt approved a plan to make certain info in state registry to be available to journalists free of charge. The current fee will be removed. The request limit will also be removed, going from 10 pages per month to unlimited.
The requester will have to disclose their name, address and other registration info through a registered ID. A pre-registration is needed so random people won't come and overload the system.
Earlier, the term "media registration" was accepted with criticism by some journalists. Pashinyan says whatever they're discussing now was suggested by journalists last year, and that using an ID card to request info isn't a bad thing. This resolution will also recognize websites as media outlets and allow them to request free info.
Pashinyan: does this registry contain the media owner names?
Minister of Justice: no.
Sarcastic Pashinyan: Too bad....... Now they're going to claim we're trying to control the media sphere by wanting to reveal media owners.
(few months earlier the Free Speech Committee recommended govt to pass a law to require media owners to be revealed, in a bid to increase transparency and trust towards media.)
Govt gave a tax break to SatenKar textile firm to invest 300mln for production materials and 14 new jobs.
Govt gave 296mln to Health Ministry to purchase more emergency vehicles.
Police has busted food safety protection employees with knowingly closing the eye on food safety violations by 22 businesses, causing 2.2mln damage to state. (aka they took a bribe in exchange for not writing the violations on paper but there isn't enough proof)
Investigative Committee says:
Dilijan's social aid department chef is charged with felony abuse of power, forgery, bribery.
1) Chief took a bribe in order to help a resident solve a bill problem.
2) In 2016, chief told a resident to divorce her husband so she could qualify for social aid, because husband had cars registered under his name which placed them above the poverty line. The couple officially divorced but continued to live together while falsifying docs. The agency chief then kept part of this fraudulent aid on monthly bases as his atkat. (🍿 things people will do for money 🍿)
3) Chief helped a resident to embezzle some property.
Chief and few residents are is charged with multiple felonies. Assets are frozen. 4 more suspects had felony cases dropped because of the 2018 amnesty.
Update: few weeks ago the Ministry of Labor said they audited the former administration's work and found irregularities in land purchase transactions.
Today the prosecutors released a statement saying a felony case is launched due to a 920mln damage to state through former Ministry's and other agencies' land price machinations.
Էս սարն իմն է, էս ծառն էլ կնոջս ա պատկանում։
Last year Hetq outlet released an investigation showing how former regime members and allies obtained forest lands in Tsakhkadzor, through shady means.
SIS released a new statement:
Former Hrazdan mayor (caught in another embezzlement case too) and former Kotayk governor abused their powers to rig land auctions that allowed privatizations.
In 2007, the govt made a decision to change the legal definition of some forests in Kotayk & Hrazdan. Some of these lands were opened for construction.
Without organizing proper auctions, documents were falsified and these lands were appropriated by various Roboserj politicians and their friends.
The list of officials who obtained the lands:
- Kocharyan's friend and owner of some Roboserj media outlets Samvel Mayrapetyan
- Former PM Hovik Abrahamyan's driver Grigor Gevorgyan (must be as good as Shoemaker then)
- Kotayk governor Kovalenko Shashgaldyan
- Hrazdan mayor Aram Danielyan and his wife Zarik Gevorgyan
- General Prosecutor Aghvan Hovsepyan's son Armen
- ARF MP and former Minister Aghvan Vardanyan's brother Ishkhan
- HHK MP Harutyun Gharagyozyan's wife Sharmik
- Hrazdan mayor's aide Levon Arzumanyan and latter's son Arsen Arzumanyan
- Hayantar forestry chief Martun Matevosyan
- Director of Culture Institute of Charentsavan Roman Galustyan
- Security service employee Bagratuni Barzeghyan
- Boxer Arthur Abraham's uncle Nikita.
Former governor of Kotayk, mayor of Hrazdan, several other officials, are charged with multiple felonies for embezzling 106 hectares of lands.
However, the statue of limitations has expired and the officials won't go to jail. The lands will be returned.
The govt will spend 52.4bln on North-South highway in 2020. That's as much as the money spent in 2016-2019.
9.2bln for Gyumri road repair. 3x more than in 2019.
Lars is the GEO-RU point of entry that always gets clogged, causing problems for Armenian traders. GEO and RU have been working on alternative routes.
GEO has received $475mln loan and will spend $84mln of its own money to begin a construction of an alternative road and tunnel in 2020. It'll bypass the troubled area.
The declining state of Azeri oil production
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/dcwa69/anticorruption_news_summary_oct32019_forest_land/
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