2020 February 11

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Anti-Corruption Daily

Feb/11/2020 -- Daily News Collection & Anti-Corruption from Armenia --- Massive police reforms, new academy, new ministry, duty reshuffling --- Landmark court decision to fight army bullying --- Constitutional referendum update --- Mayor & son charged --- many more stories inside...
by ar_david_hh

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 Referendum

BHK has (sided with QP and) decided not to join LHK's proposal to send the referendum bill for Constitutional Court's (CC) approval, saying that CC judges cannot be impartial about discussing a bill about firing themselves (Sherlock).

BHK says they support the idea of a referendum, but won't say whether they will urge people to vote YES or NO.

BHK MP Tigran Urikhanyan quit the party today, citing several disagreements with BHK policies in the past several years. This is the 3rd time since 2015 that he talks about quitting BHK.


With BHK remaining neutral, LHK does not have enough MP votes to send the bill to CC, and with President Sarkissian already scheduling a referendum date, there are no legal barriers left. The Venice Commission could still give non-binding advice on whether to hold a referendum or not, but things appear to be settled. Armenia is headed for a Superbowl.


LHK chief Marukyan complained about a barrage of hate they received after voting against the referendum. He suggests there were death threats, and some people, "yet to be revealed who", are trying to get LHK allies fired in Vanadzor city. "The threats are real. We sent them to prosecutors." LHK is against this referendum, instead, they want a brand new Constitution not written by HHK.


HHK MP referred to the process as "yet another show by Pashinyan administration to revive the euphoria".

Central Electoral Committee declared February 17th the beginning of the referendum lobbying campaign, where both sides can convince the voters to vote aye or nay. The propaganda can be done at any time, but during this period both sides will get "official" resources.

The referendum is on April 5th. If approved, 7 out of 9 CC judges will be fired (see previous posts for details).


LHK chief Marukyan claims he has sources telling him that some judges met Parliament Speaker QP Ararat Mirzoyan today to "negotiate" something. (claim not verified)

QP MP Alen Simonyan said he isn't aware of any such meeting but he won't rule out that some judges could resign before the referendum. (recently Parliament passed a bill to allow judges to resign early and still qualify for pension)

QP MP Marat Tokhyan is the brother of CC judge Felix Tokhyan. He denied rumors that he spoke with Felix to ask him to resign. Earlier he voted in favor of the referendum bill that seeks to fire his brother.


The referendum will cost 2.5bln ($5.2mln), same as the 2018 Parliamentary elections. 650k voters must vote YES for it to pass.

The voter lists will be published "so people can check and catch problems ahead of time." The Committee will try to install as many cameras as possible "in the little time that they have."


Yerevan Mayor Hayk Marutyan tried to use the opportunity and insert the second question on the ballots to ask Yerevan residents to make a decision about an unrelated topic (paid parking), but the Electoral Committee told him it's impossible.


Pashinyan, evidently happy about the upcoming referendum, wrote a poem dedicated to April 5th.

Pashinyan lyrics: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180298 https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180216 https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180219 https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180225 https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180228 https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180237 https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180241 https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180240 https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180282 https://factor.am/220671.html https://factor.am/220665.html https://factor.am/220772.html https://factor.am/220701.html https://youtu.be/7GEeQ_6SLnQ


institutional reforms for police

The Justice Ministry published a draft bill to make police reforms in 2020-2022. The bill says its purpose is to improve recruitment and training, make the police more trustworthy in the eye of the public, etc. As part of the bill, the Patrol Agency and Traffic Police will be merged under one unified Patrol Service.


It also envisions the creation of a new Internal Affairs Ministry "typical to Parliamentary systems", which will include a new National Guard and a new institute of "detectives".

The National Guard isn't actually "new" because the existing Police Forces will be renamed as National Guard. It will become part of the police and will no longer be regulated with military laws. Once part of the police, it will be tasked with aiding public during an emergency, respond to riots, protect strategically important structures.


The reforms will return most of the preliminary investigation's duties to the police. They were transferred to the Investigative Committee in 2014.


The new Detectives institute will be tasked with solving certain criminal cases and serve as a link between various agencies.


In order to train policemen who are "intolerant to crime, respect the law, value public safety, etc." there will be a new police academy that will produce cops after having the candidates pass through tests. This will cost 1.5bln and is already funded with the 2020 budget.

The new policemen should be educated, preferably speak multiple languages.


The police will be more like a "Ministry", which will reduce the Prime Minister's influence and increase Parliament's oversight, a move that has long been encouraged by the opposition LHK party.


Other reforms include tighter cooperation between the Central Bank and police, the migration services and police.

The proposal is submitted for public discussion.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180226 https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180293 https://m.facebook.com/rustam.badasyan/posts/2875020369216046?refsrc=http%3A%2F%2Fazat.tv%2Fnaxatesvum-e-nerqin-gortseri-naxararutyan-stextsum%2F

Tags: #PoliceReforms #InternalMinistry #NationalGuard #InstitutionalReform


landmark court decision could reduce army bullying

General Prosecutor says the Cassations Court has just made a landmark verdict that can set precedence in reducing army bullying by higher-ups against lower-ranking soldiers.

In 2017 a felony case was launched against 2 high-ranking officers. One of them punched a recruit for being late for training. The second officer kicked a recruit for not wearing the attire properly.

At the time, the court acquitted the officers, claiming the assaults were "not serious enough to fall under Code 358.1.2".

At the time, the military prosecutors appealed the verdict, but the Appeals Court upheld the lower court verdict.

The Appeals Court's verdict was then appealed in Cassations Court. The prosecutors argued that instead of teaching soldiers good manners and willingness to do their duty, the officers chose to physically assault them.

The Cassations Court sided with prosecutors and overturned the previous verdicts, and sent the case back to the lower court for a new trial.

Essentially, the court has ruled that no assault in the army is "too small" to be held accounted for.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180290 https://www.arlis.am/DocumentView.aspx?DocID=110893


cleaning up the army

Prosecutors had 929 felony cases in the Army in 2019. It's -18% YoY. 97% of the cases were solved.

Heavy crimes -8%. Very heavy crimes -28%.

Anti-corruption fight exposed 6x as much stolen money in 2019 vs 2018. 2x more money was recovered.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180304


another Kocharyan & Co trial

Both sides argued about free/not free in court. Things were heated as always. The judge sanctioned the March 1st victim lawyer Seda Safaryan with a warning for essentially calling someone "illiterate" while arguing her case. She complained that the defense was playing dummy.

The session will continue on February 18.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180260 https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180280 https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180292


should stay free

HHK Justice Minister and CC chief Hrayr Tovmasyan's godson Norayr Panosyan was earlier charged with abuse of power, pressuring notaries, etc. The court didn't find it necessary to keep him in jail pre-trial. Later, more charges were added. The court again refused to lock him up based on these new charges specifically.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180261


the return of maestro

A while ago QP Culture Minister Nazeni Gharibyan (before Ministries merged) made a decision to fire the director of Opera Constantine Orbelyan, citing laws prohibiting high ranking members holding multiple positions, and Orbelyan's busy schedule causing too many skipped office hours.

Orbelyan sued and won. He'll be reinstated as a director and chief maestro simultaneously. He'll act until August 3rd (then it's unclear).

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180251


Artsakh elections

Artsakh Republic is preparing for presidential elections. Former war general Samvel Babayan doesn't qualify as a candidate because he didn't spend the past 10 years in Artsakh (some time in Russia).

Babayan unsuccessfully appealed his disqualification in court. He calls it politically motivated.

Unable to participate, Babayan endorces candidate Masis Mailyan.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180245 https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180264


Update: Stepanavan Mayor Mikael Gharaqeshishyan is charged with embezzling 274mln.

Before becoming a mayor he managed the social security department. This is when he allegedly colluded with HayPost employees in the (earlier revealed) mass fraud story that saw multiple officials charged.

The court found that he doesn't have to be jailed pre-trial.

The Mayor's son is charged with a 500mln embezzlement.

https://hetq.am/hy/article/113203


NSS busted an MLM financial pyramid. The report says:

Several Armenians from the diaspora were part of an MLM scheme claiming to be a tourist agency. They decided to spread the scheme in Armenia since 2018, by urging people to "invest". Some people fell for it. A felony case is launched.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180218


Yerevan news, trash, snow, bus

Yerevan Mayor Hayk Marutyan's wife created a new program to manage the city's dangerous waste by obtaining a $5.3mln grant from abroad.

Mayor dismissed concerns about conflict of interest saying this independent waste-sorting program was created by her wife from zero as a way to help the city and the project is not funded by govt.


After heavy snowing, the mayor is satisfied with street cleaning, but not with sidewalks, citing the fact that the latter is cleaned by a newly formed city agency that hasn't received the sidewalk cleaning equipment yet, which is why some sidewalks are icy. They plan to purchase more equipment soon.

"You should lease the sidewalks to the Hockey Federation," responded an opposition Councilman.


This month, Yerevan will initiate the loan program and hold an auction to place orders to purchase 100 new buses for Yerevan's upcoming transport reform. The buses could be produced and delivered this Autumn.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180253 https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180269 https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1004534.html https://youtu.be/1JVhfp0hzu4?t=15


sports news

Greco-Roman wrestler Karapet Chalyan won bronze in European Championship.

Edmon Nazaryan won gold in a different weight category, under Bulgarian flag. He's coached by his father Armenian Olympic champion Armen Nazaryan.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1004564.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1004558.html


Henrikh Mkhitaryan's transfer price was earlier increased to $20mln. Roma refused to pay that to Arsenal. Arsenal is a full house. Henrikh will likely be transferred to another team unless Arsenal lowers the price or accepts him back.

Mkhitaryan was on a temporary contract in Roma. He scored 4 goals in 10 matches. (not bad for a midfielder?)

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1004443.html


the OG poet (not like Pashinyan)

Today marks the 135th anniversary of legendary poet Vahan Teryan. nuff' said.

https://hetq.am/hy/article/113206


Saryan's intellectual property

The National Gallery of Armenia (in Public Square) was served a cease and desist letter by legendary painter Martiros Saryan's granddaughter because the gallery sells Saryan-themed souvenirs without paying copyright royalties. Saryan's granddaughter wants 20%.

"I'm not trying to ban them from selling souvenirs but should respect the intellectual property laws," said Ruzan Saryan.

In another instance, she contacted a cafe in the Center district, that was using Saryan-themed paintings, to help them "fix things" to bring the art closer to Saryan's actual art. "We work hard to make sure his art isn't tormented."

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180180


Martin's story

Legendary film director Martin Scorsese says he was inspired to choose the filmmaking career by a New York professor Hayk Manukyan, who would give hot speeches about filmmaking. http://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/277826/


when you get your tax refund and the palms are itchy

Govt gave Amasia settlement new agricultural equipment to renew their tools for the first time in 20 years. 1646 farms "are enlivened".


30 orphanage graduates received their free apartments. In Dec-2019 the govt decided to give apartments to 300 graduates with the help of 1.9bln that was saved through Labor Ministry efficiency reforms.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180200 https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180281


bololavirus

Chinese Xi'an city (population 7mln) has asked its sister-city Gyumri for help to fight the raging coronavirus.

Gyumri will send 1k gowns, 14k masks, 20k surgery shoes, 10k gloves. The inventory is packed and ready to fly as soon as the shipyard produces the ships

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180300


Pashinyan vs Pashinyan

"Thanks to everyone who prints and demands sales receipts. There was a 34% rise in taxable transactions in Jan-2020 vs Jan-2019. This brought 25bln in additional revenues or +22%," wrote PM Pashinyan.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/180259


Snow-kiting in Armenia

me like it https://youtu.be/8C8zOIGgCyo?t=11


Gazeta Ru

"Экономическое чудо: как Армения обошла Россию"

https://www.gazeta.ru/business/2020/02/10/12953947.shtml


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/f2ej5r/feb112020_daily_news_collection_anticorruption/


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