2019 September 24
Anti-Corruption & News Summary - Sep/24/2019 :: 4th March 1st witness dead :: Ministry bust :: Pashinyan in US :: Manvel in jail :: Governor :: Parliament on reasons why Constitutional Court chief should be impeached :: Which MPs are the richest? Attendance... :: Army & Borders ::
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.
Last night the police received a call about a dead body in a house. The deceased was identified as Hayk Harutyunyan (HH), the former police chief during the 2008 March events.
The investigators are treating it as a suicide. His own weapon was found near the body. The bullet wound was to the head. He consumed "significant amounts of alcohol" prior to the incident, say investigators.
The weapon was a "reward" he received years earlier. It is customary (at least in past) to give people in power a little souvenir handgun.
Immediately after the incident, rumors and conspiracy theories begun to circulate because of HH's status as a witness. What do we know do far?
HH was a former police chief between 2003-2008 before being appointed as the Head of State Protection Service. He had been questioned as a March 1st witness. He also had a serious (undisclosed) health problem.
Prosecutors' office denied rumors by Roboserj-linked media outlets that HH had certain contacts with the general prosecutors, calling it a manipulation and taking advantage of the fact that the victim is dead can't can't deny it. The outlet, citing an anonymous source®, also suggested that HH allegedly said that "Kocharyan is innocent, they're forcing me to say otherwise" right before his death.
The investigators contacted the two outlets Hayeli and Armlur with a request for any information they claim to have regarding the story. The outlets' editors say they will not say where they got the information from.
A witness was with HH in the same building around the time of the incident. The witness denied the rumor, saying there was no discussion about March 1st before the incident.
Investigators reviewed the CCTV footage and didn't find any suspicious visit to HH's residence.
A felony case has been launched under the suspicion of "driving a person to commit a suicide". This is a standard procedure and it's done before more evidence is gathered during suicide cases.
Serj Sargsyan said whatever the circumstances are, "it was a tragedy", and expressed his condolences.
What did HH testify as a witness about March 1st? Below are his version of the events:
He said that he, as a police chief, received an info from NSS in February 29 that the protesters had weapons, and there could be provocations by them.
He instructed the police to conduct searches in the morning of March 1st. [ECHR later found this to be illegal. This is the case when police begin to beat peaceful protesters sleeping in tents. It was later found that info about weapons were falsified.]
Another police official Armen Yeritsyan was instructed by him to organize these searches. HH said he was afraid that the protesters could attack forces and blow things up.
His subordinates then reported to him that there was a clash between police forces and tent protesters (already March 1st early morning). Police begun to remove protesters from the Azatutyun Square to search the area, and he received reports that the police were able to find some weapons.
Then he got info that these protesters gathered near the Italian Embassy. He sent the police to monitor the crowd. Police begun to convince protest leaders to move elsewhere, but negotiations failed after protest leaders allegedly refused. Several cars were later arsoned in this area by the protesters. Clashes took place with the police.
Protesters used cars to block the roads. Protest leaders brought loud speakers. Things continued. More cars were burned down. He instructed Armen Yeritsyan, who was in direct control of police forces on the ground (he is dead too, by the way), to station the police closer and to contain the crowd. That evening he received reports of clashes between the police and protesters. He received a report saying a grenade was thrown, causing the death of a policeman.
HH says he instructed police to de-escalate but they were having a difficulty because the crowd was throwing things at them. HH says his subordinate told him that he saw how the protesters begun to shoot at each other
. By then, there were many casualties. (this is reported by HH's policeman subordinate)
HH says that's when Kocharyan signed an emergency declaration at 22:30, giving the military the ability to intervene. After this, the protests gradually died down. (prosecutors point out that the army was already involved a week before the emergency declaration).
The above was the former police chief's version of the events he testified in 2018. He was not questioned in 2008. More inside the links.
HH isn't the first March 1st witness to die.
Few years earlier Kocharyan's head of security service Grigori Sarkisov died from a heart attack. Former NSS chief Gorik Hakobyan died few years ago from serious health problems. A high ranking police official Armen Yeritsyan mentioned in this story also died from years ago. There is no evidence to suggest they were murdered.
Not everyone thinks HH was just a witness.
Former Kocharyan-era prosecutor turned critic Jhangiryan says HH could have very well been among the March 1st suspects, and it's not far fetched to assume that the law enforcement officials like him should also be charged for colluding with Kocharyan with overthrowing the Constitutional Order.
Former non-govt March 1st investigator Seda Safaryan says HH was told to repeat the same story told by Kocharyan, which alleged that they dispersed the March 1st early-morning protesters because of info about weapons,. Moreover, says Safaryan, other witness police officers denied parts of the story by HH about the tent protests (earlier this year European Court for Human Rights ruled against the Kocharyan regime on this topic).
Former HHK Justice Minister Arpine Hovhanisyan is managing an NGO. She went to OSCE and accused the Pashinyan govt of repressions. During her speech, she mentioned David Grigoryan (the future-Kocharyan judge who was reported last year for falsifying documents), and Constitutional Court chief Hrayr T. (who is accused of violating laws by ignoring petitions by a court member) as examples of mistreated people.
Arpine Hovhanisyan's speech received a criticism in Armenia. She was accused of promoting injustice while serving as HHK's Justice Minister.
Prosecutors and the Emergency Ministry did an audit and uncovered a 1.6mln fuel embezzlement by the Emergency Ministry officials in 2016-2018.
Pashinyan govt was in LA. They signed a memorandum with LA municipality and California govt to increase the trade and business with Armenia.
Glendale mayor says over 20,000 people went to Pashinyan's Sunday speech, the largest audience an Armenian leader was able to gather till this date. More people would have come if the space was bigger, says mayor. Q&A inside...
PM visited the Silicone Valley, met large tech firm leaders and venture capitalists, asked for investments, reminded of the upcoming 20% flat tax, a 0% tech startup tax, a 10% income tax for startup workers, etc.
Ministry of High Tech & Industry signed a memorandum with Draper University to cooperate in tech education.
President Sarkissian met Italian cyber-giant Leonardo and agreed on mutual cooperation plans.
Pashinyan flew to New York (unclear whether a helicopter was used).
PM spokesman accused the former NSS chief Vanetsyan of continuing the unprofessional conduct. Vanetsyan says PM asked him to end the public war of words. PM was then accused of breaking the promise of not talking about the topic. PM spokesman agrees that the jabs should end.
Another week, another Manvel Tushonka Grigoryan trial. He will remain locked up again after the judge refused a bail offer. The defense complained about health issues.
Vayots Dzor governor Trdat Sargsyan has resigned after his aide had a fight with a solider few days earlier. The soldier is an a critical condition (read earlier post for details). Governor says although he himself wasn't connected to the incident, he's resigning for ethics reasons. Says he was home at the time of the incident.
A Parliamentary committee is hearing the topic about voting to ask the Constitutional Court to impeach its chief (former HHK) Hrayr Tovmasyan.
Here are the reasons cited by QP:
1) Serj congratulated Kocharyan 4 days before the Constructional Court made a verdict that was viewed as favorable for Kocharyan. Serj's message indicated that HHK uses its assets to help Kocharyan.
2) Hrayr Tovmasyan and Kocharyan's lawyer are godfather and godson. The problem is Tovmasyan failed to properly bring this up before the hearings.
3) Tovmasyan, before becoming a court member, used to say that March 1st events are shameful and that the govt should drop the legal cases against protesters. However, after becoming a HHK member, he changed his view calling Kocharyan/Serj's regime's measures "justified".
4) Constitutional Court has a rule that says when an external petition is accepted by Court (such as by Rob's lawyers), the Court has to organize a hearing and allow the members to say whether they have a conflict of interest or won't be able to make a fair judgement. Tovmasyan violated this rule.
The committee gave it a green light. It'll be discussed on the Parliament floor. LHK has already announced they'll be voting in favor of asking Court to impeach Tovmasyan.
Justice Ministry held another Anti-Corruption institutional change discussion. He spoke about ways to make it easier to do business in Armenia. Members of govt and 120 businesses from various countries were present. They were asked for an input.
The new Anti-Corruption institute, that is still in the works, will be consisted of vetted officials who don't have a controversial past.
BHK boss Gagik Tsarukyan earned 97% of the wealth among MPs according to the recent disclosure. He has begun to attend the Parliament meetings after the revolution. The #1 MP who skips the meetings is BHK Vardan Ghukasyan.
The Parliament passed 131 bills presented by the government, and 12 bills presented by MPs. 80% of the bills were about the legal system and economy.
Parliament used to have 12 MPs who had over $1mln. Today there are only 2 of them, both from BHK (Gago and Davit Manukyan) .
9 out of 10 richest MPs are BHK. The other one is QP Tigran Karapetyan.
BHK boss Tsarukyan decided to cancel the cement factory construction in Kapan after environmentalists complained about it.
Gago's Multi-Group says they've been trying to hold a meeting with the locals about the construction, as mandated by the law, but the environmentalists allegedly blocked their meeting attempts for 2 years. Since Gago says they should always do as people say, they've decided to stop the factory works, says Multi-Group*.
Yerevan-Tbilisi-Yerevan railway transit will soon resume its operation. Tickets are as low as $20 for the 10 hour trip.
Artsakh army has allowed Red Cross to extract the dead Azeri soldier's body. He was shot on the no man's land 2 days ago while approaching the Armenian positions. At the time the army said they prevented an Azeri infiltration attack.
Today, the Defense Minister somewhat backtracked, saying what the Azeris did was very strange. Usually infiltration doesn't happen in a broad daylight and with such few people. Army is still analyzing it.
Armenia launched a week-long military exercise. Military has been brought to a full alert state. the administrative structures will test how effective they are. Target practices will take place. Heavy machinery is mobilized.
Update : The second chamber of Romanian Congress has unanimously adopted the resolution to declare October 12th the day of Armenian language and culture.
Link to original report: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/d8tr8z/anticorruption_news_summary_sep242019_4th_march/
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