2019 September 4
Anti-Corruption & News - Sep/4/19 :: Former Yerevan mayor busted :: Constitutional Court :: Paplavok witness on how Rob's bodyguards killed a man :: Frmr Yerevan admin & Ministry land :: Mayors charged :: Nature Ministry bribe :: Govt to encourage imports of new car models :: Stats :: էստի համեցեք
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.
The Ministry of Labor has asked the prosecutors for an investigation. In 2017, the government made a decision to create a unified center in Yerevan to handle social security tasks. A land owned by Yerevan had to be given to the Ministry of Labor (feds). A 1700 m2 land belonging to Yerevan was sold to the Ministry for 1.2bln.
In 2019, the World Bank refused to build the center in that building. The new government decided to swap the land with something more suitable. They hired an independent firm to calculate the land's value. It turns out it's only worth 321mln.
Now the Ministry wants the prosecutors to investigate the discrepancy.
The former mayor of Yerevan Yervand Zakharyan is facing felony charges in a case launched by SIS. SIS says in 2008 he signed a decree to take away 10,000 m2 green area from Hakhtanak Park. With another illegal order, the land was sold to Rob's Golden Palace hotel for only 164mln, significantly lower than the market value. Later, the hotel got paid 12bln for the land.
SIS has launched a felony case against the former mayor who served between 2003-2009.
Related, from years ago...
Kocharyan earlier asked the Constitutional Court to hear whether several laws that impact his fate are Constitutional.
Today, the Court said that Clause 35 is unconstitutional, while 135 is constitutional. They are about whether Kocharyan can be arrested (presumably pre-trial). According to his lawyer, both clauses needed to be found as constitutional for him to be locked up. Because one of them is struck down, Kocharyan should be freed now, says the lawyer.
Two court members wrote an opinion piece which, among with the full verdict, will be published soon.
Prosecutors say "not so fast". The full verdict isn't out yet, and the court's decision isn't directed towards a specific trial. Another lawyer says today's verdict isn't as important, doesn't change much, compared to the ones that are yet to be discussed in the court.
Kocharyan critics are asking the government not to follow the Constitutional Court's verdict because they think it's illegal. "Kocharyan's immunity as a president cannot have an impact on the prosecutor's decision to detain him until his trial is over, because he is an active threat to the process and could intervene. The immunity may exist, but it isn't valid when the president breaks the Constitution, and currently he is charged with breaking the Constitution, thus the government should not free Kocharyan because of today's verdict."
Kocharyan's supporters were celebrating the verdict outside of the court, while Kocharyan critics organized a march to the prosecutor's building demanding Kocharyan to remain locked up.
Kocharyan lawyer: today's short summary of the verdict means Kocharyan cannot be detained during the pre-trial period. When the court releases the full verdict soon, we'll be able to tell whether the felony case against Kocharyan will proceed.
CivilNet media gives the summary of today's verdict. A former president cannot be arrested for doing something that was part of his duties. However, Kocharyan is charged with allegedly doing something that was outside of his duties (breaking the Constitutional order).
Today's verdict doesn't necessarily mean Kocharyan can be freed now. The lower court will take today's verdict into account while hearing Kocharyan's March 1st trial soon. Parliament must make changes to the law that was found to be "broken".
Justice Minister Rustam Badasyan: today's court verdict is just a TLDR and we should wait for the final full text.
Minister criticized the court for ignoring one of their member's claims that 3 of the court members cannot participate in that hearing due to a conflict of interest. The Minister described the decision by the court to proceed with the Kocharyan case without hearing the internal arguments as "suspicious".
As of right now, 74 March 1st victims and relatives are registered to receive 720mln as an aid.
A Romanian British tourist Steven Newton says he was a witness in Paplavok restaurant's restroom when Kocharyan's bodyguards beat and killed a man named Poghos Poghosyan. Poghosyan, a man from the same settlement as Kocharyan, was killed for greeting Kocharyan with "Privet Rob". Today, Steven Newton was outside of the Constitutional court and gave an interview where he recounted the events.
He was sitting in the restaurant with his wife and artist friends, when Rob and Charles Aznavour came in. At some point, two of Rob's old buddies saw him and one of them named Poghos greeted Rob as "Privet Rob". Rob's bodyguards initiated a confrontation. Steven's wife told him to intervene otherwise the men could be killed. It escalated in the bathroom. Steven pushed one of the bodyguards away from the second victim to prevent more injuries. Poghos was beaten so badly his head was swollen. He died soon after.
Steven left the bathroom and walked upstairs, where he saw the Minister of Justice Davit Harutyunyan (spicy spicy). He asked the Minister to arrest those two bodyguards, but the plea was ignored by the Minister. Steven then went to his embassy, wrote a witness statement, submitted it to court. The court rejected his letter, claiming it could not be accepted because it's in English. After the revolution, Steven sent a letter to Pashinyan but hasn't received a response. Steven believes Kocharyan ordered the attack against Poghosyan. Steven now lives in Armenia with his Armenian wife.
Steven expressed a displeasure that a president can be allowed to "get away with crimes just by having an immunity", which is impossible in other countries. He hopes that justice will be served eventually.
Today, a trial resumed in which businesswoman Silva Hambardzumyan testified how she met the former Nature Protection Minister (currently on the run) in 2007-2008, and how the latter allegedly demanded and received $14mln bribe from her to authorize dozens of mining projects.
They met, he demanded $14mln, she said she has to pay gradually, Minister gave her a middle-man's name to handle cash. Things got sour. During the mining license auctions, Minister told her that the licenses are meant for someone else and she can't win them. In some past instances they did the same thing to someone else to make sure Hambardzumyan wins the licenses.
During the testimony, she also revealed that in one of these licensing deals, "Grish" the owner of Bellagio (hotel?), promised the ministry higher bribe, so she was pushed out of the competition.
Trial resumes in October 2nd.
Migration Services deny the reports of them giving a Russian political activist Vitali Shishkin an asylum. The agency said no foreign citizen has been given such an official status in Armenia till this date. Shishkin earlier arrived to Armenia and claimed he received asylum. He has been to jail in Russia multiple times for organizing protests against the authorities.
The SIS has arrested one person and has a pending felony case implicating a prison warden, after they found that the administration was taking bribes through a middle-man in order to do favors for a felon.
A candidate for a school director wrote to the Ministry of Education that before the 2018 revolution happened, he was collecting money to bribe the higher ups to become a director. Now, he is forced to do his homework and prepare for the process legally.
PM's office held a meeting today. Nature Minister said some of the information they had about Amulsar was incorrect. They are still discussing whether new SHMAG is needed.
Context: ELARD examiner found that Lydian miner has to implement 16 safety measures in Amulsar to make sure water and air are safe. ELARD also found that to verify these new safety measures are implemented correctly, a new comprehensive land assessment SHMAG will be needed. (It isn't clear whether ELARD thinks the new SHMAG needs to be done before or after the mining begins).
The NSS and police say they busted the former mayor of Jrashen with embezzling 3.9mln by falsely registering several of his relatives as employees and paying salaries. Another 0.9mln stolen by falsifying the salaries paid to the garbage collector. Mayor is facing felony charges.
August 2019vs2018, airport passenger traffic rose by 15%. Passenger traffic for Jan-Aug period rose by 12%. Jet flights rose by 11%.
Pashinyan: fruit wine exports rose 41% in 1H19, totaling $6.3mln.
American Association of Wine Economists: Armenia is on 51st place in wine exports. France 1, Italy 2, Spain 3, Australia 4, Chile 5, Georgia 17, Ukraine 31, Belarus 50, Armenia 51, Azerbaijan 55, Russia 56.
Product prices are down 0.4% in August vs July. The YoY difference is +0.6%.
Food, non-alcoholic drink, telecommunication, leisure prices down 0.1%-1.1% YoY.
Fruit and vegetable prices down 2.7% and 8.7% respectively.
The government wants to remove VAT for imported cars if they were manufactured less than 4 years ago. The goal is to encourage the imports of new cars that pollute less. If approved, it'll apply for the year 2020.
Armenia's recent credit improvement by MOODY's has had an impact on the banking sector. Ameriabank had its ratings improved as well.
Link to original report: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/czq50u/anticorruption_news_sep419_former_yerevan_mayor/
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