2019 September 27
Anti-Corruption & News Summary - Sep/27/2019 :: Former officials charged - Repaid damage :: Sanitek & frmr Yerevan - 5.3bln felony invstg - Salaries :: Trust up - Interest rate down :: Human rights :: Foreign aid :: Pashinyan's relative guilty :: Amulsar :: Transparency :: Privatizations blocked
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.
Constitutional Court member Alvina Gyulumyan says she doesn't plan to quit. Says she hasn't/isn't/cannot be "pressured". She didn't comment whether she supports impeaching the court chief Hrayr Tovmasyan. Says Armenia is a small country and it's easy for judges, including herself, to be affiliated with a certain political party, but she thinks it doesn't stop members from making fair decisions.
She doesn't believe the public has a distrust towards the Court. She says the few protesters gathered outside of Court don't represent the public.
Justice Minister Badalyan says the Parliamentary process to ask the Constitutional Court to impeach its chief Hrayr Tovmasyan, is a legal right given to the Parliament. QP earlier presented 4 reasons why Tovmasyan violated rules and should be terminated. Minister finds these violation accusations credible. (see earlier post for 4 points)
Minister also says it is unclear how Tovmasyan recently sent a document to ECHR and Venice Committee, while the document's Armenian version was not signed and dated by the court, raising the question whether the court members had the chance to properly review the document before sending it.
The new EU ambassador Andrea Wiktorin says she's impressed by the judicial reform push by the govt. 10 years ago she wouldn't imagine that this would ever happen. She'll comment on specifics when more details about the reform are revealed.
Pashinyan earlier reported his own cousin to authorities for falsifying education/work related diploma while getting a job at a govt-funded institute. The court has found him guilty and issued a 200k fine as a disciplinary measure.
One of the former police chiefs Vladimir Gasparyan was earlier charged with a felony. The prosecutors are now charging him with a more serious crime of embezzlement of large sums. During the investigation, Serj's brother Alexander Sargsyan recovered the 54.7mln funds allegedly stolen by Gasparyan.
Former IRS boss Gagik Khachatryan was earlier arrested. He's facing felony embezzlement and abuse of power charges. He recovered 200mln funds, but doesn't accept guilt. He's challenging his 2-month arrest warrant.
The former director of Conservatory's Gyumri branch has been arrested for 2 months and is awaiting a trial. She is charged with multiple counts of felony fraud , embezzlement of dozens of millions, abuse of power.
Last year the police busted the rector of Vardenis pedagogical institute with embezzling 8.9mln between 2009-2015. He has recovered the stolen funds. The felony case has been dropped per penal code.
Prosecutors have a felony case against Sahak Minasyan, the former head of the department of education in Shirak governor's office, who also served as the rector of Shirak State University. He was forced to resign (aka fired) amid a wave of corruption accusations after the 2018 revolution.
Prosecutor: Between 2002-2016, without the permission of authorities, Minasyan illegally took away 300 m2 land from two schools and gave it to Artik municipality, which then appropriated the lands.
(Recently the govt begun to audit land deals involving schools, after people long complained about lack of area for schools and kindergartens. Yerevan musicality busted several instances and recovered the areas.)
When you don't clean the shit, it eventually hits the fan.
Yerevan municipality earlier contacted the prosecutors to investigate the garbage collector Sanitek contract.
It has been revealed that Yerevan municipality officials, between 2013-2015, falsified paperwork to claim Sanitek had a long work experience and the necessary equipment. They claimed Sanitek met the requirements to handle the city collection. Contracts were signed based on the false info.
Before signing the contract, the city was required to check whether Sanitek had some insurance. Sanitek didn't. City didn't check. A 12 year contract was extended every year since 2014, every time by failing to check for the insurance. This insurance was supposed to help city in the event Sanitek failed to do its duties. Instead, the city was recently forced to spend 1.6bln of its own money.
The 2013 and 2015 contracts required Sanitek to install 16,000 metal garbage bins. City paid Sanitek 1.8bln to do this. However, Sanitek only installed 99 metal bins, and a total of 9900 bins. Out of 99000 bins, only 2,500 of the plastic bins were in an acceptable shape. Sanitek didn't replace the bad ones.
The contract required 4000 garbage bin platform installation. Sanitek installed only 460, but got paid 100%. 354mln damage was done to the city. A 3.7bln damage so far, including from bins.
Former Yerevan municipality officials ignored their duties from 2014 and closed the eye on the problem. 5.3bln total damage was done due to abuse of power or negligence.
Felony investigation is launched in the Investigative Committee..
Tag: YerevanGarbage, SanitekGarbage,
Human Rights Ombudsman office has revealed that 79 complaints were filed against Sanitek in 2018-2019. Mostly by employees for not paying wages, vacation money, etc.
Earlier Sanitek did 90% of the work and got paid 90% of the contract money. Because Sanitek didn't save money for the salaries and expected to receive the full funds, they didn't pay >900 workers their salaries, putting the blame on the city..
Sanitek workers then held a meeting outside of Yerevan city hall, putting the blame on city and demanding their salary. City said they'll pay the Sanitek workers 132mln, even though they legally don't have to.
Some Sanitek workers weren't happy. Today 50 of them went to govt building and demanded to speak with Pashinyan. They're represented by an activist lawyer from former Yerkir Tsirani party. They organized a protest sit-in and refused to leave until the money is paid, saying they don't care about the conflict between Sanitek and City.
The lawyer says they'll sit there until Pashinyan personally comes and say "the money has been transferred, go collect it".
Some workers complained about periodic unfair treatment by Sanitek. One worker threatened to commit a suicide unless the money is paid by 6PM.
(TO BE CONTINUED, I'M SURE...)
Earlier the Investigators said they didn't find enough evidence that the former regime purposely hid environmental data in 2016 while approving Amulsar.
The chief investigator tasked with the job was later accused of being biased for having a common relative with the person (former nature minister Aramais Grigoryan) he was investigating. The case was transferred under another investigator's control.
The new chief investigator Arsen Ayvazyan says new information has been received by the Nature Ministry. The investigation continues. More people were questioned.
It's been too long since you last heard about George Soros.
Serj regime members & allies earlier formed a group called "Veto". They're mainly trolling around, trying to appeal to hard-line traditionalists by badmouthing George Soros, and by accusing Pashinyan govt of being Soros' puppet.
7 months ago they started to target Soros' Open Society office. There were protests outside. People were prevented from entering. Police was deployed.
Today Veto achieved its first major victory. Transparency International and Helsinki Group have criticized the government, accusing it of not doing enough to stop Veto's harassment, and for not securing Open Society's right to do its work.
The complaint memo says the Office was opened in 1997 and has ever since helped to promote democracy (Veto: pesky Americans), human rights (Veto: everyone must marry gays) , education (Veto: there are only 25,000 genders), healthcare (Veto: chopchop your penis).
The transparency groups say these are the same folks under whose regime the rights and laws were violated. "Veto is spreading misinformation by labeling the new government as foreign agents, with the purpose of discrediting the ideas of the revolution", says memo.
Although police are deployed, the govt doesn't do anything else to protect agency's work in Armenia, which is a violation of human rights and helps to spread hate. Hopefully Armenia won't be headed to dictatorship because the agency is usually harassed only in dictatorship in such a manner, says memo.
The transparency groups then list several reasons why Veto violates laws.
Groups' demands: police should take action to remove the harassers, Human Rights Ombudsman should condemn Veto, Education Ministry should response to certain violations, Parliament should adopt anti-hate speech resolution.
Deputy PM Avinyan met the representatives of Freedom of Information Center of Armenia, and Civic Initiative for Freedom of Information. They spoke about strengthening freedom of press the civil society's role. The representatives noted that there's been a significant improvement at protecting freedom of info, compared to 2018. Some problems remain in communication between govt agencies and public; suggestions were made.
Nature Protection Ministry says a $2.5mln UN grant will be used to improve the areas surrounding protected forests, in order to reduce harmful impact on these forests.
They'll plant berry and fruit gardens in 4 provinces near forests, which will use efficient drip irrigation system powered with solar energy. Other lands and roads will be repaired. The project will be done in areas where the population is poor. (it's in part about lowering illegal logging)
Last month the Healthcare Ministry blocked an earlier plan to make Oncology Institute private. Corruption was revealed in the institute. Boss was replaced. Investments came in.
Hematology Center was also removed from the privatization list.
Today a Parliamentary committee agreed that Dermatology and Toxicology Center should remain under govt control. A govt representative urged caution of not denying all privatizations without a clear understanding as to why.
Govt and Committee agreed to remove HayPost post office from the privatization list. They feared that a full privatization will harm delivery to provinces.
Փոստային կապի մատչելիությունն ապահովելու համար անհրաժեշտ է պետական բաժնեմասը պահպանել որպես պետական սեփականություն, միևնույն ժամանակ կառավարությունը եկել է հետևյալ եզրակացության, որ մասնավորեցման ծրագրից հանելու դեպքում կիրառվի ընկերության բաժնետոմսերի հավատարմագրային կառավարաման հանձնումը.
Another one to be removed from privatization list is EnergaImpex, which is tasked with large scale import/export of electricity.
(someone is gon be mad)
Pashinyan: economy grew 7.6% in August of 2019vs2018.
Industry up 9.5%, construction 4.4, trade turnover 9, services 15.5, export 4.6.
Average monthly salary increased 5.7%, while there was a slight drop in consumer price index.
Update: Earlier we learned that Armenia has to pay back some large "debts" by 2020. I didn't know details about it at the time. Looks like Pashinyan clarifies it for us:
In 2013, the govt issued $500mln worth Eurobonds and invested them in the international exchange. This is like borrowing $500mln with an interest rate.
At the time the interest rate for Armenia was 6.25%. The interest rate depends on how trustworthy Armenia's economy is in the eyes of the lender. These Eurobonds were issued for 7 years, which meant Armenia had to pay back the "loan" by 2020.
But because Armenia doesn't have that much money in hand (Pashinyan be like: COUGH amulsar COUGH COUGH robik srika), Armenia decided to issue more Eurobonds so it can gradually pay back the old debt. Turns out the demand in the international exchange for these bonds is 4x higher than what was expected.
Today the interest rate is lower at 4.2%, which shows an increased trust towards Armenia. The new deadline is 2029. As a result of this interest reduction, Armenia saves $10.2mln/year.
In 2013, Armenia's risk index was 551. In 2019 it was 242.
2013 - 6.25%
2015 - 7.5%
2019 - 4.2%
Same on YT https://youtu.be/A-JkMXWa1OA
109kg weightlifter Gor Minasyan wins silver medal in the world championship, second year in a row. Ruben Aleksanyan wins bronze.
Army exercises continue. They deployed and tested mobile (not phone) GPS and land communications systems. Medics were deployed.
Defense Ministry has criticized Hraparak outlet for spreading "misleading and false information" about "wasting money on strange projects". Army says they have a budget that they use to cooperate with a Ministry and others to create and test new military tech, and that not everything is supposed to be revealed to public.
An Azeri infiltrator was recently killed while approaching Artsakh border in South. One other - a hired contractor - was wounded. This contractor also died today, bringing the total count to 2.
ANCA says a Senate committee has unanimously approved a resolution by Lindsey Graham and Chris Van Hollen, which will add more aid on top of a recommended $17.6mln economic aid, $3.1mln aid to fight narcotics and to train army.
No dollar amount was specified for now. It still needs to pass a Senate vote. Then the Senate and House will work out on how much the aid increase will be, before sending it to Trump.
Link to original report: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/da6bqr/anticorruption_news_summary_sep272019_former/
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