2020 December 29
- 1 Daily news wrap-up
- 2 Pashinyan about pre-war negotiations and "avoiding" the war:
- 3 businesses owned by opposition leaders
- 4 opposition continues the demonstrations
- 5 Pashinyan meets leaders of several opposition parties
- 6 felony case: ex-HHK MP charged with armed attack on ex-IRS official
- 7 Russian Orthodox chapel will be built
- 8 Russian peacekeepers conducted training
- 9 Russia and Turkey comment
- 10 Vitalik Balasanyan will return the lands, kicks junkies, and restrict Facebook
- 11 search operations are paused / the "welcome to Azerbaijan" sign
- 12 Parliament votes: BHK MP Naira Zohrabyan's chairmanship
- 13 Parliament votes: registering parties becomes easier / ideology instead of person / financial transparency
- 14 Parliament votes: monthly fees towards soldiers' recovery are raised
- 15 Parliament votes: ban on public smoking is delayed until 2022
- 16 Parliament votes: no tax on goods donated to Armenia
- 17 how is the Judicial Branch doing?
- 18 anti-corruption: SIS busts an IRS agent
- 19 IRS wants you to file less paperwork
- 20 update: electricity prices
- 21 police to guard Lake Sevan against poachers
- 22 rare Caucasus Leopard is spotted by cameras again
- 23 "only 10% of villagers should do agriculture"
- 24 State regulators bust another price-fixing ring: fruit mafia
- 25 Lenovo slapped for "anti-competitive practice"
- 26 Artsakh will also increase childbirth benefits
- 27 year wrap-up: births in capital Yerevan
- 28 year wrap-up: tax revenues
- 29 COVID stats
- 30 chess news
- 31 French city of Valence to name a street
- 32 Italian city of di Lovere has officially recognized the Artsakh Republic
- 33 Kapan Medical Center has a new CT scanner
- 34 Artsakh children receive New Years' gifts
- 35 Himnadram donates to refugee families
- 36 daily life in Syunik bordering villages Shurnukh and Vorotan
- 37 donations for Artsakh & recovering soldiers
- 38 archive of older posts
- 39 disclaimer
Daily news wrap-up
Dec/29/2020 news: \\ political party law reformed: idea > individual; transparency; female % \\ Pashinyan responds to "not being enough pro-Russian" \\ who owns which business? \\ protests & snap elect. \\ burglary case & HHK MP \\ humanitarian aid for Artsakh \\ Vitalik flexes muscles \\ bills pass
Your 14-minute Tuesday report in 3589 words.
Pashinyan about pre-war negotiations and "avoiding" the war:
The idea that a flexible foreign policy could have avoided this war is being constantly circulated. Those [former officials] who believe in this thesis must answer at least one question: as a result of their "flexible" policy, why was it not possible to avoid the war of 2016, which was preceded by the unprecedented escalation of 2015 and 2014?
The "flexible" policy adopted by Armenia for many years led to the introduction of Russian proposals in January 2016, which proposed the return of 7 territories (5 + 2) without any legal status for Nagorno-Karabakh.
Why did Russia make such an offer? For one simple reason, as a result of Armenia's "flexible" policy, the Madrid process had come to a standstill because Artsakh could receive a Status outside Azerbaijan only with the consent of Azerbaijan.
It was obvious to Russia and everyone else that Azerbaijan would not agree to this, so it was necessary to find ways to break the deadlock.
And, by the way, if certain people claim that Armenia's foreign policy after 2018 was not sufficiently pro-Russian and this was the reason for the war, then why in the conditions of the "sufficiently pro-Russian" policy of 2016 were Russian proposals born and why did the April war take place?
There was only one way to prevent this war: return the regions and forget about Artsakh's legal status. Now, after the war is over and we know the outcome, the number of supporters of [giveaway of 7 regions] is growing. What they forget is that if we gave away the lands to avoid the war, we would have the same situation in Syunik borders. They used to accuse us of "selling lands" [he means the contradictory statements like Nikol sold the lands, and why didn't Nikol sell the lands earlier to avoid the war].
The biggest failure by the supporters of the "flexible policies" is that they spent years trying to avoid a war instead of preparing for it. Our biggest failure is that we weren't able to recover enough embezzled public property in the past 2.5 years to help us better prepare for the war.
businesses owned by opposition leaders
What are the known businesses owned by some of the famous people you might have seen in the public square lately?
20% share in Lorva Amrots Ltd which plans to operate two hydro-power plants on Dzoraget river. Manukyan purchased the shares in 2011 after being appointed by Serj as the head of the Public Council.
In 2015-2016, he owned 30% shares in Vanavka Group. In 2015-2017 he had 30% shares in Jermakunq Group. These companies extracted and bottled water. At the time, the director of these companies was charged with illegal bottling and causing ֏55 million in damages to the state. The corruption case was sent to the IRS, which terminated the investigation after "not finding a crime". The companies export the products mostly to Russia.
Vanetsyan is a poor boy, according to the public declarations database. But if you have time, take a look at the investigative report I covered in Apr/29/2020 news, according to which Vanetsyan's family allegedly used offshore firms and owns mining shares. More on that here. Here is a Hetq investigative report.
Vanetsyan's father owns AV Group flower importing business. About a year ago, the police investigated several flower sellers near a stadium. An opposition outlet claimed that the sellers were "beaten and forced" to testify that Vanetsyan's father was running an underground business. This was never properly proven and the opposition's claim that Vanetsyan was about to be charged did not happen. The police confirmed that there was an investigation against several flower sellers. These flower sellers ended up hiring Vanetsyan's co-party-creator Arsen Babayan as a lawyer.
Vanetsyan's father owns 50% shares of A B Export oil import company that began operating in 2017. It was a minor player that quit the market in 2019. Vanetsyan's father also owns 60% of A B Trans transportation company.
In Nov/2019, CivilNet wrote about Arthur Vanetsyan's cousins' possible involvement with Zangezur Copper factory (massive business). The same offshore firm in Cyprus, which purchased Zangezur shares, was tied to Vanetsyan's cousins' another business in the same offshore.
Vanetsyan's cousins also own a Switzerland-based Exoil wholesale cooking oil and shipping company. In 2019 it had a revenue of $148 million (11 billion Rubles). The cousins don't do this business in Armenia.
Per 2019 registration, Arthur Vanetsyan himself owns one apartment, $10,000, and ֏1 million.
Media reported in May/2020 that Vanetsyan's cousin purchased a ֏300 million mansion in Yerevan, which was donated to then-new political party "Hayreniq", co-founded by Arthur Vanetsyan and Arsen Babayan (the guy who is accused of helping HHK to fabricate documents in 2018 to hijack the Constitutional Court by appointing HHK MP Hrayr Tovmasyan as a judge).
Arthur Vanetsyan's mother served as the chief of the personnel-management department in Serj and Pashinyan administrations, before quitting and working as Serj's aide.
Vanetsyan's wife owns Villa Montessori preschool in Yerevan. She also runs the Young Education Center Ltd.
ARF Ishkhan Saghatelyan
Pashinyan appointed Saghatelyan as Gegharquniq governor for a brief period after the 2018 revolution, when Pashinyan created a unity-government, represented by all political parties. The honeymoon soon ended and each party went their way.
Saghatelyan owns shares in i-mega Service Ltd. It's a tourism agency founded in 2006. It operates in Armenia, Artsakh, and Georgia.
Saghatelyan founded Navasar company and serves as director. It's owned by his father.
Saghatelyan family owns the Tsovasar hotel complex on Lake Sevan shores. It's 10,000 m2 (a hectare?).
As of 2018, Saghatelyan declared ownership of 8 pieces of land, 2 apartments, ֏18.5 million, $45,000, and €15,000.
Saghatelyan's father is the mayor of Gegharquniq's Geghamavan settlement. This municipality had recently sent a letter demanding Pashinyan's resignation.
Saghatelyan used to be a shareholder of Shiman Ltd which is no longer active.
BHK leader Gagik "dodi gago" Tsarukyan
BUCKLE UP, KIDS! Overall, Tsarukyan runs 54 companies. Студент, комсомолец, спортсмен, u наконец, он просто красавиц.
His business empire was covered in details here. Textile, gas stations, malls, Multi Group empire, Shangri-La Casino, Ararat Cognac & Wine Factory, BMW official office Euromotors (also Hyundai, Gazel, Niva), Multi Motors, Magas Invest, Multi Wellness, Olimpavan sports complex, Kotayk beer factory, TechnAlyumin door & window factory, Multi Rest House hotel chain, Paravon luxury restaurant, Onira Club, Zvartnot's airport's upper-level service company Avia Service, Farm Adama, Multi Pharm pharmacy, Multi Leon gas stations, Multi Solar solar panels.
He owns shares in Frank Mueller Yerevan watch company, Fortsa, Multi Gold, Multi Diamond jewelry firms, several fish-breeding businesses.
He also runs businesses in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Czechia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Latvia.
Per official declaration, he owns $168 million, €29 million, ֏675 million, 14 pieces of land, 6 houses, 2 public buildings, 1 apartment.
Details for BHK MP Mikael Melkumyan and HHK Vahram Baghdasaryan in the link below.
opposition continues the demonstrations
The street demonstrations, organized by the former regime and its allies, continue. They demand Pashinyan's resignation and the appointment of their candidate Vazgen Manukyan as the Prime Minister for the duration of a year, after which they agree to hold new elections.
ARF leader Artsvik Minasyan said they don't plan to discuss snap elections with Pashinyan. "Right now, our only demand is Pashinyan's resignation. We demand SIS to immediately hold every criminal accountable". The demonstrators gathered in front of the SIS building to present the demands.
Pashinyan meets leaders of several opposition parties
QP leader Lilith: there is a possibility there will be a meeting between Pashinyan and the three Parliamentary political parties. They could discuss snap elections. The impression is that politicians who demand Pashinyan's resignation do not want snap elections in an attempt to bypass the citizen's right to form a government. Our political team reaffirms the position that none of us is clinging on seats. //
LHK MP Gorgisyan: we cannot hold snap elections now, under this chaotic situation. We will discuss snap elections if Pashinyan discusses his resignation and transfer of power. (LHK wants its leader Marukyan to be elected as Prime Minister by a Parliamentary vote) //
Pashinyan met BHK leader Tsarukyan. The latter is against holding snap elections unless Pashinyan resigns now, and presumably, he wants Vazgen Manukyan appointed as PM.
LHK leader Marukyan also wants Pashinyan to resign now so a new Prime Minister can form a new government cabinet "consisted of experts".
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039261.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039268.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039299.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039322.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039323.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039327.html
felony case: ex-HHK MP charged with armed attack on ex-IRS official
In August of this year, Russia extradited a former HHK MP Alraghatsi Lyovik to Armenia. He was wanted for allegedly burglarizing and shooting at a senior IRS official a decade ago. At the time, his case was "frozen". It was relaunched in 2018. (magic wand)
NSS says: suspect Lyovik, with the help of citizens AK and AN, organized an armed burglary against IRS Chief (?) Avetisyan in 2008.
AK was in the United States. In 2004, he stole $150,000 from jewelry shops in Los Angeles. He got caught but managed to flee to Armenia.
Once in Armenia, AK colluded with policeman AN to organize a similar criminal ring in Armenia.
[MP] Lyovik personally knew AK, and learned about their burglaries. Since Lyovik had bad relations with the IRS chief (victim), he decided to punish the victim by urging AK to burglarize his house. Lyovik revealed the plot to his brother-in-law, who happened to be the victim's personal aide. The latter gave all the personal habits and details about the victim to the burglars.
[read the article for the full story, or wait for a Hollywood movie in theaters near you]
The burglars and organizers are charged with felonies.
Russian Orthodox chapel will be built
... in the Armenian settlement near Nakhijevan where Azerbaijan had earlier shut down a Russian helicopter, which killed and wounded Russian pilots. It'll be on a hill in Yeraskh. Construction starts on January 6th.
Russian peacekeepers conducted training
... to stay in shape. A report by WarGonzo's Semyon Pegovn who returned to Artsakh to meet the New Year there.
Russia and Turkey comment
Russian MFA: The situation in Nagorno-Karabakh should not be used for the infiltration of foreign mercenaries into the region. Here we have exactly the same position as our Turkish partners.
Turkish MFA: we see that a ceasefire has been established. We hope to establish the joint RU-TR monitoring center soon.
Vitalik Balasanyan will return the lands, kicks junkies, and restrict Facebook
Artsakh President Arayik earlier announced that he will allow his opponents to take jobs in the new coalition government. Kocharyan-ally Vitali Balasanyan became the Security Council chief.
Vitalik: we will return Hadrut and Askeran region with the help of Russian and Armenian military-political efforts. We are in a better situation now to solve territorial issues.
We will soon create border guard forces. It will report to MoD, which will report to the Security Council (his office).
Drugs have no place in Artsakh. Drug users must quit or leave Artsakh now.
We need to return to traditional values of giving women as wives after asking if the man had served in the army.
No public official will be allowed to use Facebook during work.
search operations are paused / the "welcome to Azerbaijan" sign
Azerbaijan received criticism for refusing to allow search teams to enter the Hadrut region yesterday. They also prevented UNESCO from checking the status of several Armenian cultural sights, after complaining that UNESCO was "biased" against Azerbaijan during the war.
HR Ombudsman: Any untrue information can not be a reason to disrupt the humanitarian process [referring to unconfirmed rumors on social media that Armenians opened fire at Azeris in Hadrut. An unofficial Iranian social media channel claims 3 Azeris were killed but due to an internal fight.]
The Human Rights Ombudsman also criticized the Azeri troops for installing a provocative "welcome to Azerbaijan" sign on part of a road that went under Azeri control near Syunik borders. The Ombudsman says it's meant to intimidate the locals.
Parliament votes: BHK MP Naira Zohrabyan's chairmanship
Context: BHK MP Naira Zohrabyan referred to the majority of Armenian voters as human trash *(or as she says: impure), and called for the establishment of forced re-education camps so people won't vote for a "wrong party" again. The ruling QP party launched a process to terminate her chairmanship in Parliamentary Human Rights Committee. Read yesterday's thread for more details.*
QP MP Arthur: the law states that the Parliament can appoint and terminate the chairman. The termination of this seat does not require the same procedures as in the case of MPs and Judges. Armenian Constitution states that in Armenia, human beings are of the highest value, and inalienable human dignity is the inseparable basis of their rights and freedoms. MP Zohrabyan's public conduct is against it. //
The law gives the second-largest political party the mandate to appoint the chairman of this particular Committee. BHK, being the second-largest party, said they wouldn't appoint a replacement if Zohrabyan is voted out.
QP MP Arthur: per rules, if BHK refuses to appoint a new candidate, the largest (QP) party will receive the mandate. //
Parliament voted 78-4 to terminate Zohrabyan's chairmanship. BHK and LHK did not vote.
BHK MP Zohrabyan: this termination was a Constitutional crime.
Parliament votes: registering parties becomes easier / ideology instead of person / financial transparency
The goal of this reform is to have political parties that are more about ideology and less about an individual. The reform will boost internal democracy within parties; it will expand the powers of the Party Assembly.
Parties will be required to add more anonymous voting mechanisms.
The law also requires more financial transparency.
The required membership to register a party is lowered from 800 to 300.
Some of the public funding given to political parties will depend on the % of female members in the administrative boards.
Parliament voted 99-1 to approve it.
Parliament votes: monthly fees towards soldiers' recovery are raised
Most workers pay a monthly 1000 Dram towards the Soldiers' Fund, which takes care of wounded soldiers and families of those who died. The govt found it necessary to raise the fee to cover thousands of new recipients. Here are the new fees and salary brackets:
֏1,500 for < ֏100k/month
֏3,000 for < ֏200k
֏5,500 for < ֏500k
֏8,500 for < ֏1 million
֏15,000 for > ֏1 million
Parliament voted 89-0 to approve it.
Parliament votes: ban on public smoking is delayed until 2022
The govt had adopted a law to ban smoking in public cafes and the public display of cigarettes in grocery shops. The ruling party wanted to delay parts of the bill that were set to go into effect in January, citing possible financial issues for businesses caused by the pandemic.
QP MP: the cigarette industry pays $383 million to state coffers.
Healthcare Ministry: it will be a mistake if you delay this bill for the sake of $10 million in tax revenues.
Parliament voted 86-0 to delay the anti-smoking bill until 2022.
Parliament votes: no tax on goods donated to Armenia
QP MP: When you donate a charitable product to the Republic of Armenia, you are exempt from customs duties and other tax payments, except for one payment, which we are trying to exempt with this bill as well. //
Parliament voted 80-0 to approve it.
how is the Judicial Branch doing?
The Supreme Court protects or punishes judges. It also handles complaints. It's separate from the Constitutional Court.
19 complaints against judges were heard, 14 of which were petitioned by Justice Ministry and 4 by Judicial Ethics Board. 10 judges ended up receiving disciplinary penalties, 3 received a warning, 3 were reprimanded, 2 were terminated, 4 were cleared.
the system is overloaded
61 judges are handling 6470 felony cases.
86 judges handle 175,940 civil cases.
24 judges handle 17,390 administrative cases.
The number of Arbitration cases rose from 3100 to 9900.
This year, Supremes appointed 20 new judges. Supreme's budget remained the same this year. They returned ֏607 million in savings back to state coffers.
anti-corruption: SIS busts an IRS agent
SIS says: IRS border inspector took a bribe from a citizen to help him avoid paying Millions of ֏ in import taxes by splitting a large load into smaller pieces, so each piece would fall below the taxable threshold.
IRS wants you to file less paperwork
IRS says the latest reforms will help the exporters and simplify the process in which Armenia is used as a transit country for trade. Some tasks can be done online.
update: electricity prices
...won't go up for low-income families or those using less than 400 kWh. That's 90% of consumers. The rest will pay 3 Drams more. The rates are presented (6-10¢):
police to guard Lake Sevan against poachers
Police and Nature Ministry have set up additional checkpoints as part of measures against whitefish poaching in Sevan. 24/7 monitoring on all alleys leading to the lake. They will also travel across markets to catch contraband whitefish.
Why? It's the egg-laying season. Fishing is banned for now. The legally-allowed fishing tools were temporarily removed from the lake.
rare Caucasus Leopard is spotted by cameras again
"only 10% of villagers should do agriculture"
...the rest should have access to other jobs. There is an opportunity now because many businesses operate remotely. Call Center workers don't have to visit an office. Businesses would rather pay less to hire a rural remote worker than more to hire someone in a Yerevan office.
The High Tech Ministry has an ongoing program to teach IT to 5,000 citizens. We must help workers to expand their skillset. We're working on a program to allow a worker to quit the job, not worry about the food on the table, and have enough time for education and learning new skills.
The villagers should ideally lease their smaller lands to large agricultural producers," said Economy Minister Qerobyan.
Full interview: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039319.html
State regulators bust another price-fixing ring: fruit mafia
Yesterday, the Economic Competition Committee busted the egg industry's alleged price-fixing and anti-competitive practices. Today they say a similar collision was observed in the orange, mandarin, kiwi, lemon industry.
The companies Best Fruits, Art-Fruits, and Promout were slapped with a ֏39 million in penalties for colluding to raise the prices for the products that had an increased demand during the pandemic period.
Lenovo slapped for "anti-competitive practice"
The Economic Competition Committee heard a petition filed by Oazis Computer company against Lenovo. The latter was issued a warning for anti-competitive behavior.
Public Regulator: "Lenovo" company had the ability to influence the process of importing Lenovo computers to Armenia from non-EAEU trade bloc countries. "Lenovo" took steps to reduce the import of Lenovo computers from non-EAEU states, by discriminating against Oazis Computer importer. Lenovo is given a month to correct the issue and fix the requirement and standards related paperwork.
Artsakh will also increase childbirth benefits
First child: ֏300k instead of ֏100k
Second child: ֏300k instead of ֏200k
(or ֏500k if one parent is disabled)
As for monthly child care subsidy payments, it goes from ֏15k to ֏27k until the child turns 2.
year wrap-up: births in capital Yerevan
girls 2019: 10173
girls 2020: 10489
boys 2019: 11251
boys 2020: 11430
year wrap-up: tax revenues
2018: ֏1.257 trillion
2019: ֏1.458 trillion
2020: ֏1.379 trillion
+2483 tested. +348 infected. +22 deaths. +1267 healed. 13881 active.
Levon Aronyan has advanced to the Airthings Masters quarter-finals where he will play against Hikaru Nakamura. He is 1pt behind the leaders. The winner receives a $60,000 prize.
French city of Valence to name a street
... after Artsakh capital Stenapakert. It already had Ijevan Park, Armenia Street, and Yerevan Street. Stepanakert Street will be located in a newly built district. There will be Toros Street as well.
Italian city of di Lovere has officially recognized the Artsakh Republic
Kapan Medical Center has a new CT scanner
... thanks to generous diasporan donors like you. The first one was installed during the war in Goris city.
Artsakh children receive New Years' gifts
Focus on Children Now charity organization distributed gifts to hundreds of Artsakh kids residing in Gegharquniq province. Backpacks, clothing, items of basic necessity, money, and postcards written by kids living in the United States.
Himnadram donates to refugee families
700 Artsakh families continue to live in 40 settlements of Gegharquniq province. The All Armenia Fund (HimnaDram.org) has provided food and household items to 241 families ahead of New Year.
daily life in Syunik bordering villages Shurnukh and Vorotan
donations for Artsakh & recovering soldiers
www.1000plus.am (recovering soldiers & their families)
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:
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/kmn0ql/dec292020_news_political_party_law_reformed_idea/
|2018 Daily Armenia Reports|
|2019 Daily Armenia Reports|
|2020 Daily Armenia Reports|
|2021 Daily Armenia Reports|