2019 September 11
Anti-Corruption & News - Sep/11/2019 :: Amulsar vs Environmental activists vs Pashinyan :: SOC vs water abuse :: Parliament bills :: Property taxes :: Expanding deportation laws :: Foreign affairs :: Police vs Mayor :: other stories inside...
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.
SOC audited another water union called Yerevan Water User Association. This time they found 169mln in damages to the state in the form of water waste. They contacted the prosecutors.
The police says they busted the mayor of Baghramyan with embezzlement. In 2017 and 2018 the mayor signed a work contract, paid funds, asked the contractor to give some of the money to him, covered it up by falsifying documents.
He then allegedly conspired with a director and secretary of a school to falsify employment records to steal funds.
Felony charges are pressed against the mayor.
Yesterday a 4.8pt earthquake happened near Gyumri at 8:20pm. Loud noises came first, then the shock, then 30 aftershocks ranging from 1-4pts. Many people waited outside until midnight. That area is always seismically active.
Update: few years ago Sasna Tsrer group took a police station hostage. They were demanding their friend Jirayr Sefilian to be freed from jail, and for Serj to resign.
Some people from the group killed 2 policeman during this process. The rest of the members are free at the moment, but the murder suspects are still locked up. Today their trial resumed.
(The freed members later formed a similarly named political party called Sasna Tsrer.)
Nature Minister: there is a legal procedure to decide whether a new land assessment (SHMAG) needs to be done before Lydian operates Amulsar mine. Based on the evidence collected by ELARD and elsewhere, they are still investigating it. ELARD alone cannot decide that a new SHMAG must be done. If Lydian does major changes on the sight, they would do a new SHMAG.
As for the alleged cover-up by previous Nature Ministry, investigators are trying to figure out whether former officials purposely closed the eye on an info related to vaporization and dust. Lydian says 5% of the dust (or 5% chance, not clear) will travel beyond 1km. Investigators are checking whether the wind data, which can affect how far the dust goes, was deliberately skewed to make numbers look good for Lydian. Still being investigated.
US's NATO envoy and US ambassador met MFA & Ministry of Defense and thanked Armenia for cooperation in peacekeeping missions. They remembered the September 11 attacks. They spoke about increasing the cooperation.
Russian ambassador says they have no comment about the rumors that a Russian political dissident was given an asylum in Armenia. He says the official Armenian institutes rejected this news, "no further comment".
Ambassador rejected the rumors alleging that Putin will visit Armenia this year during EAEU, but won't actually participate in the EAEU summit.
Ambassador says Panama Paper suspect Migran Poghosyan isn't given an asylum just because he is still in Russia. There is a legal process that decides whether he can be extradited. As for former March 1st chief investigator accused of evidence falsification, the ambassador says he doesn't know his status in Russia, maybe he is a Russian citizen or there are other obstacles for deportation. The ambassador denied the idea that Russia is purposely shielding these officials to send a message to the Armenian govt.
A Russian soldier called ambulance and reported that his fellow soldier is unwell. He said he went to prepare tea, and upon returning, found the man on the floor. The man died. The postmortem examination revealed the he died from damages sustained to the spleen. The body had numerous other injures that indicated a heavy impact such as a car crash.
Artsakh Republic Parliament hosted a group of French parliamentarians as part of Artsakh-France friendship summit. The French leader of the group said they'll take steps to increase Artsakh's recognition internationally, to tell the world about the war, and "how Artsakh became a democracy in this turbulent region".
37% of Turks think Turkey should be a presidential country.
54% says presidential system is inefficient. They want parliamentary system.
78% of ruling party voters favor the presidential system.
Today the Parliament was discussing the proposal by Property Registrations Committee (Cadastre) bill to create one universal database of properties in Armenia, and calculate their current prices.
There will be changes to property taxes for those with high income, and the paperwork will be made easier, says Cadastre. One proposal would allow home owner not to pay taxes on annual basis, and instead, accumulate it and make a one-time payment to govt during selling/transferring the house.
Example: Right now, due to an outdated land registry system, a $5.8mln house owner's property is visible to the tax collector as if the house is only worth $730k. This is why the owner only pays $6k property tax. After these changes, when the property costs and taxes are reevaluated, this house owner could pay $58k.
Parliament ratified CSTO (mil bloc) amendments to allow the PM act as the representative, and to authorize the bloc to have observers/partners.
First one became an issue last year when Armenia arrested its own CSTO representative. Pashinyan had to use a loophole to fill in the spot.
As for CSTO partners, Armenian MFA says they won't allow Azerbaijan to become one; Armenia has the right to veto.
Justice Ministry submitted a bill to Parliament. They want to be able to deport legal immigrants if they commit a crime.
Parliament is discussing a LHK-proposed bill to allow one person to register LLC business in Armenia under his own name and be the sole businessman.
Parliament approved the govt's draft bill to change the traffic laws and implement points-based system. If passed, it'll punish bad drivers by taking away their licenses though a points system, instead of mainly relying on fines, which many rich hooligans used to take advantage of in past.
You'll have 9pts per year to waste. 20 out of 100 types of traffic violations will cost you (various amounts of) points.
MPs grilled Pashinyan on the Parliament floor.
On Amulsar, PM was asked why not just revoke the license given by the previous govt. PM says...
There are different approaches to Amulsar issue: emotional, environmental, economical, etc. Says his administration has to choose the legal path based on the truth, without having pre-existing opinions on what the truth must look like, until they find the truth. No one can claim that our administration isn't keen on finding the truth, said PM. "If we illegally shut down Amulsar today, tomorrow we could illegally shut down media outlets and businesses."
Environmental activists, some Jermuk residents, few singers, an opposition party QO, other opposition figures gathered outside of govt building. They are accusing Pashinyan of illegally sponsoring Amulsar miner Lydian. Parliament speaker Mirzoyan spoke with them. Protesters then marched to the public square. "Fuck Corporations - Save the Planet".
PM was asked about Meghri free trade economic zone. (context: NSS recently found that Meghri regional municipalities made illegal land sales to people, at least one of whom claimed to be related to former HHK PM Hovik Abrahamyan, a notorious land magnate.)
As soon as the former regime made a decision to form a trade zone in Meghri, regime's representatives begun to illegally appropriate land in the area. As a result, the zone only has 1 building, with the nearby lands and structures being privatized. Prosecutors are looking into this.
By 2023 hopefully land issue will be solved, so they can launch a major expansion and work with the Iranians. (Products are imported from Iran, then shipped to EAEU). Another issue is the international political situation surrounding Iran, which will harm the business in the trade zone, said PM.
PM presents a graphic showing how the foreign debt reduced. "There is a trend now". He said they aren't borrowing money and wasting on poor quality roads or embezzlement.
Սա (borrowing less), իհարկե, որոշակիորեն դանդաղեցնում է կապիտալ ծախսերի տեմպը, որովհետեւ համակարգը սովոր է աշխատել այլ՝ հայտնի կանոններով: Բայց սա, միանշանակ, ճիշտ ճանապարհ է. թույլ չտալ պետական միջոցները վատնել անորակ շինարարությունների եւ ատկատների վրա»
The Central Bank has lowered the refinancing rate by 0.25%. It's at 5.5%, the lowest since 2010. This means the regular banks can borrow at lower rates, and subsequently lend to you at lower rates.
Although this could somewhat increase consumer product prices, it'll be accompanied by an increased economic activity and spending, which is in line with the govt agenda.
This is the second reduction since 2019 and is done partly because of consumer product price drop seen during 2019.
UEFA wants your favorite irrelevant soccer team to become more relevant. There is the highest Champions League, then the lower Europa League, and now there is going to be Confederations League. The winner of the latter wins a ticket to Europa League. It'll have the same format as the Champions League.
Link to original report: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/d2vgsl/anticorruption_news_sep112019_amulsar_vs/
|2018 Daily Armenia Reports|
|2019 Daily Armenia Reports|
|2020 Daily Armenia Reports|