2019 September 18
Anti-Corruption & News Summary - Sep/18/19 :: Law enforcement reforms looming -- Changes explained -- HHK concerned :: Frmr Police boss charged :: Gago's MultiGroup boss charged :: Mayor & Prison bosses charged :: Gas losses reduce :: Cash :: Poverty :: PhD :: Jermuk water safety :: more 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.
Azerbaijan's Defense Minister Zakhir Hasanov threatened Armenia with a war "soon", and decided to answer Pashinyan on the battlefield. He is angry that Pashinyan said if Azerbaijan isn't willing to go on a compromise, then Armenia will declare "Artsakh is Armenia. Period."
Defense Minister Tonoyan called Zakhir Hasanov a dreamer.
Artsakh MFA: Azerbaijan does not have internationally recognized borders
Changes in the law enforcement structures continue.
Pashinyan and Sarkissian accepted police chief Osipyan's resignation. Osipyan has been appointed as a chief adviser to Pashinyan. Osipyan thanked his law enforcement colleagues, the public for valuing the police work and reforms, spoke about their anti-corruption achievements.
PM's office says Pashinyan wasn't satisfied with the work done by NSS/Police bosses, and asked them to resign. Pashinyan thinks Osipyan will be a good adviser.
Earlier, NSS boss Vanetsyan submitted a resignation after "having a conversation" with Pashinyan.
Parallel to these events, the Parliament will soon pass the bill that allows PM/Parliament to pick and vet candidates for police/NSS chief positions from a larger pool of candidates. All 3 parties agreed that the current law is bad because is forces PM to pick candidates from the system that has long been submerged in corruption. LHK proposed to introduce "fresh air". This bill hasn't passed yet. (Some details in yesterday's post.)
That NSS/Police structural բոլոլա was created by LHK boss Edmon Marukyan. He went live and explained the bill, and why it's necessary.
Last year LHK suggested to make NSS and Police "Ministries" because they report to the PM either way. PM reject it, saying it would "politicize" the agencies too much. LHK insisted that if they become ministries they'll be more open to reforms.
This June, LHK proposed an amended compromise bill. Instead of turning them into Ministries, LHK wanted the chiefs of these structures to be appointed not necessarily from within the system. The reason is because people from within the system have long-standing brotherly ties with corrupt individuals, and this could affect their willingness to act against them if necessary. LHK thought the fight against corruption wasn't happening as good as expected, and some former officials still weren't being charged. An "outsider" boss wouldn't have his hands tied, and would act more freely.
Marukyan criticized HHK figures for presenting the story as the end of democracy in Armenia. HHK is saying this bill will help Pashinyan to appoint "his allies" into power. Marukyan says that's exactly how it's supposed to work, and obviously PM isn't going to appoint people loyal to the former regime. Marukyan criticized HHK for saying Pashinyan's candidates are too young, because HHK's laws made it possible.
Marukyan says HHK is afraid of these changes because until now they've had a leverage within the law enforcement system. HHK is now using their media outlets to spread the propaganda against these reforms.
(I had time to watch part of the video)
Some media outlets circulated unconfirmed rumors that the next police chief will be Vilen Gabrielyan, a long time anti-Serj activist figure who recently served in military forces.
Gabrielyan gave an interview to CivilNet few months ago. He is the 6th most popular figure in Civil Contract (QP) but doesn't hold a position. In a June-2019 interview, he said there were talks about him becoming the police chief.
He envisions a different police force. Says there are big problems with the current state of police in Armenia. He thinks the police system is 30 years old, outdated, hasn't been able to adapt to recent changes.
Old video https://youtu.be/zT3CyOk0u5c?t=557
Old video https://youtu.be/3XX-Y1B1YNg?t=51
Pashinyan on Facebook: NSS isn't a person. It's a structure. Certain corrupt individuals think they can take advantage of the ongoing changes in NSS and "fix" their problems. They are mistaken. NSS will go after every corruptionaire.
Former police chief Vladimir Gasparyan is charged with abuse of power and 21.7mln damages to the state.
Police says he instructed the workers to close the eye on the fact that several officers were being paid, while in fact they were away and working as Serj's brother Levon Sargsyan's assistants.
SIS will Continue the felony investigation.
Gagik Jhangiryan was a prosecutor who served under Kocharyan. He became a major critic of the Kocharyan regime. In 2008, the police went to detain him. The police claimed they were attacked by Jhangiryan during a scuffle. In 2009 he was sentenced to 3 years and later released under pardon/amnesty.
Recently he challenged his conviction. The case went to Cassations Court. Today the court made a verdict to throw away his conviction due to lack of evidence of assault.
Prosecutors say 48mln was embezzled between 2007-2015 during a renovation of Armavir penitentiary.
In 2006, the govt paid 10bln to 2 firms to renovate. In 2019, Justice Ministry audited the prison and found that the construction firms used incorrect and cheap materials. Prison admins are accused of closing the eye on these problems and purposely signing the job as "done". Felony charged are pressed.
Former HHK MP Mihran Poghosyan has joined the chat and accused Pashinyan of abusing his powers.
Poghosyan is hiding in Russia. He's charged with money laundering through offshore firms, abuse of power, falsifying employee records. Poghosyan's alleged laundering crimes were revealed after Panama Papers leaked. At the time, HHK administration shielded him. The investigation resumed under Pashinyan administration.
Nikol Pashinyan wants to know your location.
Nikol Pashinyan wants to know how you're doing today.
Investigators have pressed felony charges against 6 more people in connection with the North-South highway construction fraud.
Managers of a construction firm and their sub-contractor colluded together. Subcontractor firm is STONES, which is run by the manager of Multi-Group, which is BHK boss Gagik Tsarukyan's firm. STONES helped to evade taxes and commit other fraud which resulted in 2.7bln in damages, say prosecutors.
Authorities are seeking an arrest warrant for 3 of them, inlcudihg the Multi Group official.
The mayor of Ani, Shirak and two of his aides have been charged with 3 counts of felony abuse of power and embezzlement. For a long time, the locals (Maralik) organized protests against the HHK mayor, accusing him of embezzlement of millions of drams. The roads were shut down multiple times.
NSS says they arrested the chief of "Kosh" penitentiary institute and 2 others for accepting bribery. Felony investigation continues to see if others are involved.
The Central Bank has proposed a bill to increase electronic transactions and reduce the shadowy economy. Proposal:
Install card machines in all stores (reduce hidden revenue, increase customer comfort).
By default, pay pensions electronically. Exceptions are disabled or >75 elderly. Pensionaires can opt-in for cash.
Require an electronic transfer for large transfers of 2mln (salary, sales)
CB says this will reduce tax evasion and improve the financial system..
Charity foundation AFFA worked with Yerevan to install large human dummies on a street crosswalks near a school to increase driver awareness. The practice has helped to reduce accidents in other countries.
The number of Armenians seeking asylum in Europe is down 27% in 1H19vs18. That's a 44% drop since 2017.
72% of Russians want their govt to reduce immigration. That number was 58% in 2017.
Labor Minister Zaruhi Batoyan says they'll submit a plan, and if approved by PM office, the government will join NGOs and begin to help to finance projects that help poor families get out of poverty. 500mln will be spent on 1,000 families. "NGOs have achieved a lot with little money. Why can't the government use its larger resources to achieve more."
They'll work with an organization World Vision Armenia. The organization says 3,000 families were helped in the last 15 months. 48% of them went above the poverty line. 90 families had their incomes rise by 55%.
A 2017 research shows 26% of population or 766k are poor.
42k people are extremely poor and earn less than 24k/month.
31% of kids are poor while 2% are extremely poor.
PM's chief of staff spoke about Independence Day celebrations and this year's expenditures. Says the stage and performance will cost 60mln this year. In past, 425mln was spent on a similar setup.
Pashinyan says the losses while transporting and delivering gas are at the lowest level. 4.9% of the gas is lost. That's 58.4mln m3 of gas for 1H19. (That's at least $9.5 million in 6 months.)
Last year the Parliament launched an investigation and asked Gazprom-Armenia to explain how much they pay their admins, how the money is spent, why are there large amounts of gas losses despite the delivery tech becoming better over time.
Pashinyan continued, saying electricity delivery losses were also reduced by 1%, falling to 7.2%. It's been reducing for several years. Electricity consumption rose 6.2% in the same period.
Higher Qualification Committee is tasked with making sure doctors, rectors and others who submit academic dissertations, are being honest and don't plagiarize.
Recently, the govt launched a war against copy-paste. Laws were passed. The Committee busted several high profile people.
Committee boss says this year they received significantly fewer dissertations for a review. People are taking time to do their homework, to remove their copy-paste.
Next month, the Committee will launch a new system that highlights the work and achievements done by candidates. They'll need to present their work before receiving an academic degree. The presentation will be live-streamed. They have plans to involve diaspora scientists in supervisory boards.
You might have seen reports of Jermuk mineral water being found dangerous in US due to high levels of Arsenic. Armenian's FDA investigated and found that the exporter didn't properly label the bottles with a special "health" tag. When it is labeled as a health product, the Arsenic standards are more lax, because that water is marked as having a specific purpose. Regular mineral waters, which the bottles were incorrectly labeled as, must have very little Arsenic.
It's safe. Don't abuse it. And screw you if you thought this news was about Amulsar DON'T BITE ME ;)
French-Armenian soccer legend Youri Djorkaeff has been appointed as Chief Executive Officer of FIFA Foundation.
You bought a light bulb. It says it can work for X hours. Few days later it's dead.
Armenia has a new lab that tests the bulbs on the market to see if they meet the quality standards. A year from now, EAEU countries will reform bulb quality standards to push out the crap from the market. This lab will test the bulbs in Armenia and nearby countries.
Two Romanian-Armenian politicians introduced a bill in Romanian Senate to declare October 12th the day of Armenian alphabet and culture, and to allow govt-funded festivities. It passed. It now has to pass House before being signed/vetoed by the president.
Earlier, "Armenia Festival" was held in a Romanian city. Movies, dance and food was presented.
TOURISTS! Can we harass them? No, because this time it was Kuwaiti sheikh's wife.
Link to original report: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/d63lwy/anticorruption_news_summary_sep1819_law/
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