2020 December 28

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

Dec/28/2020 wrap-up: \\ ex-HHK MP & mayor charged \\ court verdicts on "inciters" \\ opposition rejects new elections \\ Parliament session: MP assaulted, bills voted, verbal battle \\ egg monopolies penalized \\ travel compensation \\ POWs exchanged (Azniv) \\ deforestation ring busted \\ artifacts
by ar_david_hh


Your 12-minute Monday report in 3101 words.

sharing these daily news threads on social media

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Government penalizes 7 large egg producers over anti-competitive price-fixing

Economic Competition Committee has issued ֏103 million in penalties to seven large egg producers for colluding and fixing egg prices. The producers are Lusakert, Lusakert Elit, Gntuniq, Ashtarak Kat, Variant Group, Arzni, Araks Poultry.

Committee: Between Dec-2019 and Feb-2020, the producers colluded to intentionally lower egg prices, then colluded again to raise it in March. A similar scheme was discovered until August 27th. The price fluctuations were not related to changes in expenditures or other economic factors.

The intentional lowering of the egg prices resulted in small and medium businesses becoming non-competitive. 9 small businesses were pushed out of the market.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039194.html

ruling party invites opposition to discuss snap elections

QP leader Lilith Makunts has invited the former regime and non-former-regime opposition parties to sit down and discuss terms for the 2021 snap elections. One of the topics is whether they should make the earlier-planned electoral reforms first, before holding the elections.

The former regime, represented by 16 big and small opposition parties led by Vazgen Manukyan, rejected the offer to hold discussions yesterday. They want their PM candidate Vazgen Manukyan to be elected as the new Prime Minister by Parliament, so he can govern for a year before organizing new elections.

Vazgen Manukyan: we will hold the protests every day until Pashinyan leaves. What was done is unforgivable. Every day that he stays is disastrous for our country. They keep giving lands. To be honest, I'm not sure he will go for snap elections. I think his offer for elections is meant to split opposition into two camps: those who agree and those who don't. We won't agree to elections while Pashinyan is PM. If elections are held before his departure, God knows what will happen. There will be fights and bloodshed near every ballot box.

QP Party leader: Vazgen Manukyan said "if there are snap elections now, there will be bloodshed near every ballot box". Some have interpreted this as a hint, while others as a threat. In reality, this is proof that some people cannot comprehend that it's The People who form governments.

Another QP MP: Who will commit the bloodshed, Mr. Manukyan, the QP party, or your supporters?

Independent MP Babajanyan: We are witnessing an escalation in tensions. It's time for those opposition forces (e.g. LHK) who refused to join the 16 parties (former regime) to come together. They should be the ones to stabilize the situation. This cannot be tolerated any longer.

Today we see that the leader of that pack (Vazgen Manukyan) is circulating new epithets. This is a sign of an internally disturbed politician, which poses new threats. They demand that this legitimately-elected Parliament appoint their own "anti-revolution revanchist" candidate as the PM. That's what can cause bloodshed. The Armenian citizen did not give you [Manukyan] a mandate by electing this Parliament.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039121.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039171.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203815 , https://youtu.be/WtYZCBVq2xU , https://factor.am/324883.html

Justice Ministery, Prosecutors, and the Judicial Branch locked in a public spat

Opposition figures recently publicly called for Pashinyan and ruling party members to be murdered/assaulted. Prosecutors charged a figure and asked the court for his arrest, arguing that there is enough ground to be concerned about physical violence under the current state of politics. The judge refused to arrest the former regime member. Similar verdicts were made for a few others.

Prosecutors' office unloaded on the judicial branch yesterday, accusing them of "believing that Jurisprudence is a useless category" and "going with political winds".

The Supreme Court's (not Constitutional Court) spokesman responded to the Prosecutors' office, saying that the prosecutors "know all the options available against suspects" yet they chose the "Facebook-style justice" (some had interpreted this comment as a politically biased anti-Pashinyan statement coming from Judicial Branch because that term is often used by former regime members who accuse Pashinyan of spending too much time on Facebook).

Justice Minister Badasyan: The Supreme Court spokesman is just being smart. Perhaps he finds it amusing that the Judicial branch does not protect basic human rights? This isn't an attack against the government, it's an attack against the public. In fact, statements like these create the impression of self-destruction in the judiciary branch, which should concern judges first and foremost.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039153.html

demonstrations near Parliament building / QP MP assaulted

Parliament has gathered to discuss several laws. A group of opposition activists gathered near the front gates to demand a vote to remove the PM. Several activists, including ARF Artsavik Minasyan, were detained after a confrontation with police.

Demonstrators shut down the entry for the car that was carrying ruling QP MP Sisak Gabrielyan. The latter got out. A confrontation took place.

Chairman of Parliament Legal Affairs: another attack on democracy took place today. A group of deputies, particularly Mr. Sisak Gabrielyan, were attacked by hooligans. This has nothing to do with democracy, democratic struggle, and parliamentarism.

The assaulted MP Sisak: [after his car approached the building, a few hundred meters away from demonstrators]. A few demonstrators began using slurs. I told them that I'm not running away and asked them to give me room to exit the car. I remember 3-4 faces. When I closed the windows, the car received several heavy hits. I rolled down the window and asked who hit the car. I received slurs. I exited the car. Videos were circulated presenting an incomplete picture of me hitting someone on the ground; it doesn't show the beginning. He approached and grabbed my coat. That's the place where they beat up Speaker Mirzoyan on November 10th. I defended myself against 10-15 attackers.

BHK MP Ivetta: the QP MP is the one who beat up the demonstrators.

HR Ombudsman: violence is condemnable, regardless of who perpetrates or becomes the victim, regardless of their political views. We've been warning for a while that online slurs against each other and calls for violence have reached a dangerous point.

The police: a group of people decided to prevent Parliament from functioning so they brought a vehicle filled with eggs (now that's classic). The demonstrators then got into an argument with MPs Sisak Gabrielyan and Andranik Kocharyan. Physical force was used. 15 people have been interrogated. One man is charged with "group hooliganism". The car filled with eggs was confiscated (aww maan).

QP MP Sargsyan: We get called "traitors" by the provocateurs. The real traitors plundered the country for 20-30 years and used reinforced concrete to build their housing fences and only wood to reinforce army trenches.

The real traitors are those, under whose watch the number of active army personnel shrank in half. I have raised this issue with BHK in the past. Compared to 2008, we had twice fewer soldiers in 2018.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203807 , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039104.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039120.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039126.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039162.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039163.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039166.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039178.html , https://www.arlis.am/documentView.aspx?docid=69646 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203809 , https://factor.am/324707.html , https://youtu.be/q6EsYpRMbWA

Parliament session / BHK Naira Zohrabyan's re-education camps / motion to terminate

Opposition BHK MP Naira Zohrabyan had earlier called for the vast majority of voters, who voted for the ruling QP party, to be forced into re-education camps so they wouldn't vote for the wrong party again, after calling them human waste. Zohrabyan happens to be the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee chairman. The ruling QP party launched a petition to terminate her chairmanship.

Today BHK party called the petition to terminate her a "political persecution". (violin.png?)

BHK also believes it would be unconstitutional to terminate her, citing a law that states "MP cannot be held accountable for an opinion or vote expressed within the framework of Parliamentary activity". (Zohrabyan wrote the comments on social media).

BHK argues that Zohrabyan cannot be removed because her removal would be possible only if she left the party or the party appoints a replacement. BHK said they won't appoint a replacement.

The ruling QP party's motion states "It is impossible for MP Naira Zohrabyan to hold the post of Human Rights Committee Chairman", citing her public conduct in the form of "hate speech" towards the public.

BHK left the room as a sign of boycott. They will ask the Constitutional Court to weigh-in on the QP resolution.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039133.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039139.html

Parliament session / a bill to delay the bill that would ban public smoking

Four ruling QP MPs want to delay the government's anti-smoking bill by a year (no smoking in public facilities and no public display on store shelves). Healthcare Minister Torosyan earlier unloaded on the "cigarette lobby".

QP MPs say the delay is necessary because the bill would put an extra burden on businesses that are already facing tough times due to the pandemic. They want to spend the extra year to work with international experts to assess the new situation.

In turn, Healthcare Ministry says delaying the bill will result in 310 deaths and $35 million in damages.

MPs wanted to know how the "310 predicted deaths" were calculated and the bill's effect on patients with coronavirus. Ministry cited an international study about the COVID-smoking connection.

The bill to delay the anti-smoking bill was approved with the first vote (87-0). Another vote is necessary to pass the bill.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039147.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039159.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039199.html

check your privilege: which MPs can and cannot visit Syunik?

QP and LHK MPS exchanged jabs during the Parliament session.

QP MP Khachatryan: everyone in this room talks about Syunik. How many of you have visited the province to get acquainted with the situation?

BHK MP: we didn't receive funding like you did. (1-800-CALL-GAGO)

QP MP Khachatryan: I contacted Parliament to provide me an SUV because of the geographic area I had to visit. My personal car couldn't be driven there. You will regret asking this question, I will give you all the details later.

Instead of discussing issues, you sit here and talk about "they are giving away Meghri, Shurnikh". Let's create a committee to travel to Syunkik and observe the actual situation. 99% of those of you who spread panic around Shurnukh and Vorotan don't even know where they are, don't even know where the Azeri and Russian outposts are located.

Because of your alarmist rhetoric, today a person residing in Northern Avenue says they are afraid to get out in the evening. "What if the Turk comes". The border guards give a phone number to call if your car breaks down on a disputed road, while the media presents it as "call this number if you are taken as a hostage".

LHK leader Marukyan: we did travel to Syunik. It's a question of who is allowed and who isn't to visit Syunik. I urge QP MPs representing Syunik to resign.

(After some verbal exchange things escalated into shouting. A QP MP left the room while LHK chief Marukyan demand an extra minute "for being interrupted".)*

Full: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203813 , https://youtu.be/YsmW6_c8cPE?t=79 , https://youtu.be/tBfhHcD_NQ8

compensating travel costs for teachers and students

Education Ministry approved a new order to compensate for travel costs in the following cases:

1) If a rural student has to travel to a nearby settlement to attend a school or specific classes. The distance limitation is removed.

2) Teachers in bordering areas will receive compensation regardless of the hours they work. Others have to work a certain number of hours.

3) Teachers' aides will receive the compensation beginning in 2022.

4) Monthly subsidy limit increased from ֏28 to ֏38.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039154.html

cabinet changes

MFA has a new deputy MFA Gagik Ghalachyan.

Former QP MP Pambukhchyan is the First Deputy Emergency Minister. Ara Nazaryan as Deputy Minister.

Gayane Markosyan is no longer a Deputy Lori governor.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039181.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039182.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039183.html

POWs & search operations

One of the groups who was supposed to search for bodies in the Hadrut region wasn't allowed to enter the area by Azerbaijan. They returned back.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039174.html

Four more Armenian POWs returned from Azerbaijan, mediated by Russia and the Red Cross. Among them is Azniv Baghdasaryan, who was earlier forced to film in a propaganda clip by Azeri soldiers.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039185.html , https://news.am/arm/news/621380.html

Armenia handed over two Azeri POWs to Azerbaijan with Russian mediation.

https://razm.info/147737

Azeri sources reported a shooting incident in the Hadrut region yesterday. Some internet sources claimed it was between Armenian and Azeri soldiers. The Armenian side denied it. Human Rights Ombudsman urged everyone, whatever the case is, to de-escalate so the tensions won't result in delays of search operations.

A Telegram channel MiranPress had earlier circulated unconfirmed rumors that some kind of a shooting incident occurred between several Azeri soldiers which claimed three lives.

https://factor.am/325062.html

investigators bust a massive illegal deforestation ring

Investigative Committee: 9,382 trees were illegally cut in Dilijan National Park between 2014-2019, causing ֏1.625 billion in damages ($3.1 million). Several forest guards working at the Park colluded with several residents to cut and smuggle the trees. 40 suspects are charged. The damage was partially recovered.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039129.html

anti-corruption: mayor recovered stolen funds

Investigative Committee: the 2005-ongoing mayor of Gugarq, Lori knew that a telecom provider intended to pay top-dollar and purchase land for equipment installation, so he organized a fake land auction under his wife's name to lease her the land beforehand.

The lease with his wife was signed in 2007, who only paid $4/year for the 0.12 ha land. The wife then sub-leased the land to the telecom for $2,000/year.

The mayor has recovered $24,000 in damages. The felony investigation continues.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039170.html

anti-corruption: ex-HHK MP Mher Sedrakyan is charged with land embezzlement

Investigators had launched a felony investigation on September 8th, which implicated former HHK MP Mher Sedrakyan (Tokhmakh Mher) and others.

The September 8th report said: ex-HHK MP Mher served as Erebuni district chief in 1999-2008. He intentionally allowed his son and brother to build an illegal fence around a 2800m2 land in Vardavar Park. In 2004 he asked Yerevan municipality to give the lands to the Erebuni district. Once that was complete, being the leader of the district, he finished the illegal process of legalizing the family's structure. He also illegally gave 12,000m2 Vardavar Park lands to his family.

Investigators today: we finished the investigation. Six people, including Mher Sedrakyan, are charged with felonies.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039177.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039177.html , https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/ip0qzt/sep82020_news_new_major_anticorruption_steps/?

Artsakh map by Russian peacekeepers: history of revisions

https://fip.am/14358

Russian peacekeepers & humanitarian mission in Artsakh

So far they've cleared 300 hectares from bombs, 120km of roads, 505 buildings, 12000 explosives.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039115.html

Secret Santa brings gifts to hundreds of Artsakh children

"Galaxy" and "World Vision Armenia" had organized a Secret Santa for kids. Workers from dozens of companies joined the initiative to make 300 kids' wishes come true.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039156.html

Arzni egg and poultry facility

... is now equipped with modern German technologies purchased with a govt subsidy. It automates the feeding, watering, air ventilation, and egg collection processes.

As a result, the facility can handle 70,000 instead of 22,000 chicken. The producer believes it'll lower egg prices and operational losses. Two other facilities will be modernized soon.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039114.html

high-tech TUMO education center opens in Berd

Tavush's Berd town has a new mobile TUMO in a box (trailer-tumo).

Details: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039205.html

high-tech ArMath lab opens in Meghradzor

The engineering lab will help students become familiar with robotics and tech.

https://factor.am/325055.html

Yerevan municipality talks about some street projects in 2020:

1) Installed 3092 energy-efficient LED street lights with the help of the UN. Two districts in their entirety and 13 other streets.

2) Identified 98 dangerous pedestrian crosswalks and installed more lighting.

3) 4003 other LED lights in backyards and non-streets.

4) Worked with the EU to move electricity lines underground in 28 Yerevan streets, in addition to efficient light bulbs. We came across problems after digging. A scanner was then purchased to examine other streets before digging.

5) 33% salary raise for the street lighting department.

6-7) Eight cargo-pedestrians cars were purchased for safer and efficient work.

8) Put up 12 older vehicles for sale.

https://www.facebook.com/hrach.sargsyan/posts/10224227500892494

https://factor.am/325043.html

infrastructure upgrades

Gegharquniq's Shoghakat settlement had six govt-subsidized infrastructure upgrades this year, worth ֏471 million. Several roads, freshwater pipelines, renewable electricity, street lighting, parks, etc.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039143.html

first post-war marriage ceremony in Dadivank monastery

https://youtu.be/jUwhpVMRqZc

https://www.civilnet.am/news/2020/12/28/Դադիվանք-առաջին-պսակադրությունը-պատերազմից-հետո/414671

Artsakh will rebuild museums and theaters

President Arayik: In general, culture has a unique psychological role in public life. It is not accidental that after the war, many culture-related programs have been revised. The program to restore the Vahram Papazyan Drama Theater building in Stepanakert will be approved in full at the beginning of the year. I thank all the actors who entertained children during tough times.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039158.html

the art pieces are safe

Many archaeological and ancient artifacts were evacuated during the war from areas that later fell under Azeri control. Tigranocerta, Shushi, etc. Some items in Shushi weren't saved because the owner didn't think the city would fall. Ministry contacted Russia to get info about the whereabouts and conditions of the occupied art pieces. The Education Ministry will not disclose the location of the saved artifacts "but they are in a safe place".

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039209.html

COVID stats

+1413 tested. +114 infected. +7 deaths. +562 healed. 14824 active.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039110.html

finally something is happening in the Armenian soccer-sphere

Soccer Federation chairman Melikbekyan: 2021 may be a cornerstone for the development of Armenian soccer. We have to be united next to our soccer teams, but instead, Sevan FC club leadership wrote an illiterate letter to launch a vote of no-confidence against me. They do not understand that they are putting the whole Armenian soccer in a ridiculous situation with this letter, they are damaging the image of Armenian soccer. Personal ambitions must be put aside.

Armenian soccer has scored several successes in 2020. We laid the groundwork for future progress. We will try to implement the VAR system in Armenia next year. The construction of new stadiums will slow down somewhat due to the pandemic.

We will establish a new "Active and Veteran Soccer Player Aid Foundation". As it's done in Europe, it will collect funds and aid various athletes. Board members will be Araz Ozbilis, former female team players, and others.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039146.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039157.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039180.html

wrestling news

The youth wrestling team has won 4 medals in an international competition held in Moscow.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039137.html

How to donate to Artsakh & Recovering Soldiers

www.1000plus.am (soldiers' medical help)

www.HimnaDram.org (for Artsakh & Armenia)

www.ArmeniaFund.org (U.S. tax-deductible)

archive of older posts

Armeniapedia's archive of my daily news threads:

http://www.armeniapedia.org/wiki/Daily_Anti-Corruption_Reports

disclaimer

All the accused are considered innocent unless proven guilty in the court of law, even if they "sound" guilty.


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/klzxr7/dec282020_wrapup_exhhk_mp_mayor_charged_court/


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