2020 February 14
Feb/14/2020 -- Daily News Collection From Armenia -- Stay informed about the ongoing Constitutional Court crisis, Anti-Corruption Busts, Politics, Economy, Diaspora, Daily Life, and more...
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.
HHK urges the public not to vote YES on the "illegal referendum" that seeks to fire 7 out of 9 judges, but they won't actively launch a NO campaign. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180561
QP MP urged the public to vote YES on the referendum because HHK doesn't like it (you knew this was coming). "Some forces will try to sabotage this referendum." https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180571
BHK held a meeting and decided to remain neutral. They won't participate in the referendum process. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180606 INFRASTRUCTURE MINISTER'S ARMY RECORD
Media outlet Hraparak published a report claiming that Infrastructure Minister Papikyan has a felony record for stabbing a fellow soldier, and was sentenced to 2 years, but he allegedly hid it from his biography papers.
(The report comes days after Papikyan was chosen as the leader of the YES referendum campaign.)
Minister Papikyan responded:
The outlet (heavily anti-Pashinyan) is following orders to purposely mislead the public with the story to harm the upcoming referendum. Nothing was hidden. Armenian law says when the conviction is expired (or served, մարված, can't find the right translation), it means the person's conviction record is cleared.
This is a 1.5-decade-old story that they dug up to find dirt on me. I didn't serve in the Armenian army (served in Russia). I was given good marks as a soldier. However, it's common for there to be ethnic conflicts when people from multiple ethnicities serve in the same place. I was dragged in conflict but I never used a weapon to stab anyone, despite what the outlet claims. I was part of a fight. Of course, I regret it. I was pardoned later. This happened 14 years ago.
This has never been a secret. All my friends and classmates knew about this. The former regime is now trying to stop us and sabotage the referendum by digging dirt. They won't succeed.
The published private details were available to law enforcement officials only. Instead of fighting against thieves who plundered the country for years, they're busy preparing kompromats on the current administration members and their colleagues. I urge NSS and Police Chief to investigate this.
End of Minister's speech.
SIS has launched an investigation to see if law enforcement officials broke laws by leaking personal info.
https://hraparak.am/post/e03a0c8d6498618384baf44c96553bff https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180587 https://www.facebook.com/papikyan.suren/videos/591290708117307/ https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180628 CC CHIEF ACCUSED OF "FAKE NEWS" ABOUT FELLOW JUDGE
QP MPs earlier complained about Constitutional Court chief Hrayr Tovmasyan's "unknown trips abroad", raising questions whether high ranking figures should declare ahead of times about their foreign visits.
Former regime's media then attacked the QP-nominated CC judge Vahe Grigoryan -- a Tovmasyan critic -- claiming he made similar "secret trips".
Judge Vahe Grigoryan responded:
I informed the Court properly about my work and family visits. The rumors are false. The media outlet was citing CC's Chief of Staff to make the false claims that I made "secret" visits. This type of behavior by CC's own staff further tarnishes the institute's reputation and turns it into a political party.
The 1st visit was to Poland at the invitation of the human rights body. I was accompanied by others and it's documented. The 2nd and 3rd flights were to Roma and London for a family vacation.
The Court was notified ahead of time and my salary was deducted for the said period.
This is the 3rd time that CC, under the direction or knowledge of Chief Hrayr Tovmasyan, spreads false information against a CC judge.
End of the judge's speech.
Fact-checker FIP confirmed that the story by PastInfo outlet is fake news. The regime manipulated the info about Vahe Grigoryan's absence from court sessions to present them as "secret trip to somewhere". The judge is boycotting the court sessions because he doesn't accept "the illegitimate and politicized court" headed by the former HHK Justice Minister Tovmasyan.
NSS say they busted a Yerevan State University professor with taking $8000 in bribes between 2017-2019 to help students with exam grades and admission. "He was arrested during a sting operation while taking $1000."
https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180553 FORMER SOC CHIEF TRIAL
Former SOC chief QP David Sanasaryan, one of Pashinyan's close allies during the revolution, was charged last year with colluding with 2 other SOC colleagues to help a specific business, run by one of the aforementioned colleagues, to win medical contracts.
Sanasaryan says his intention was to help the business to end another business's monopoly, and that his SOC colleague had never told him that he was affiliated with the business that they were supposedly helping. Later, SIS found that Sanasaryan was right about there being a monopoly, but NSS insisted that Sanasaryan purposely illegally helped his colleague's medical business to fight against the monopoly.
His trials resumed. Defense lawyers asked the case to be terminated because of "violations done by law enforcement during the investigation". Prosecutors argued otherwise.
The judge sided with prosecutors and decided not to drop the charges.
"I don't regret my actions. If I return today as a SOC employee, I won't let any company get superprofit at the expense of the taxpayer," said Sanasaryan.
Tag: #DavidSanasaryan #DavitSanasaryan SERJ'S BODYGUARD
Serj's bodyguard Vachagan Ghazaryan's case is closed. He was found with millions of dollars of cash in his house and charged with multiple felonies. Earlier he recovered the funds.
A judge also sided with the bodyguard and instructed the committee tasked with finding officials' property ownership declarations, to purge his and his wife's property ownership papers.
https://hetq.am/hy/article/113315 SHIRAK CORRUPTION BUSTS ++
Shirak provincial prosecutors launched 40% more corruption cases in 2019 vs 2018.
6x more stolen funds were identified. 4.3x more assets were frozen.
51 cases in the education field, 21 in local municipalities, 19 social security, 14 healthcare, 12 in construction, 6 agriculture, etc.
12 mayors and 11 school directors were charged.
https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180594 CRIME STATS IN YEREVAN
Overall reported crime rose 14.5% in Yerevan in 2019.
86% of murder cases were solved (17 cases vs 12). Murder attempts down 25%. Battery assault +2% (solving rate also rose to 74%).
33 robberies vs 25. The solving rate improved by +13% and reached 87%.
Burglaries +7%. Cameras and locks were installed on some apartment complexes. Solve rate rose from 10% to 13%.
Body injury caused by traffic violations +22%. Solve rate slightly up, to 86%. Prosecutors are mapping the dangerous intersections to create a preventative plan.
272 felonies were pressed in corruption cases. 150 were for abuse of power, 74 bribery.
https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180623 MORE CHARGES IN YEREVAN BRIBERY CASE
Earlier the NSS busted the Urban Development Chief Vahagn Vermishyan with large bribery from construction firms. 6 more people have been charged, 3 of whom are arrested. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180570 IRS's BORDER REFORMS
IRS expects a 15% growth in border tariff collections in 2020. 2x as many companies work as customs brokers, "which is a sign of the field becoming freer."
IRS reforms resulted in the reduction of % of vehicles that are being thoroughly searched upon crossing the border; it went from 22% to 12%, and will further reduce by 5%. Not all cargo is subject to be scanned with X-Ray; the scannable share went from 100% to 38%.
Reforms were made in the customs paperwork department to benefit 3,500 businesses.
Importers with an honest record get the privilege of keeping their sensitive imports (food, drugs) in their own facilities during the customs process.
3 job fairs were held in 2019, up from 0-1 in the past. The departments don't close for break anymore. It's scheduled to have an employee serve customers at all times.
There will be a new online system to make imports easier. The business can get permits from multiple agencies with a single application. They won't have to physically visit multiple agencies anymore.
No structural reforms were done in the southern Meghri checkpoint despite car imports doubling to 23,000. They have a renovation plan for 2023.
A draft bill is created to reform the drug imports over mail. Right now it's illegal. They want to allow small quantities of air-spray drug mailings to be allowed for personal consumption.
The most common violations come from Chinese imports; sometimes the description of the product or its weight is misrepresented (խասյաթա). "There is one Chinese company that has been buying lots of surgical masks from Armenia recently."
https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180572 MORE BUSINESSES DOING FOREIGN TRADE
IRS says that since 2014, the number of businesses doing import/export was around 5,000/yr.
Around mid-2018 it began to rise significantly and today it's >12,000.
IRS believes this rise is due to businesses going independent and not using a broker's help, in other words, the collapse of the "Norfolk scheme" (Norfolk was a large import broker helping businesses to import stuff, they got caught falsifying product description to avoid taxes, affiliated with former HHK PM Karen Karapetyan, firm paid 3bln in damages).
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1004952.html EAEU TRADE BLOC
EAEU (aka EEU) trade bloc has a rule that takes the tariff money that member-states collect on their borders from businesses, and splits that money among all member-states.
IRS says Armenia receives (75bln, or 1.22% of all) more than it gives (63bln). Since mid-2018 Armenia began to give more than it used to (still net positive). https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180578 IMPORTED CARS
2019 was a crazy year for car imports because of the deadline that allowed importers to import cars (189,000) with lower tariffs.
IRS expects car imports to reduce by a whopping 92% in 2020. "Imported cars older than 3 years may not be profitable for resale," said IRS.
February will finish with 150 car imports, which is at 2015 levels. At this rate, the year-end imports will be 15,000, down from 189,000
Azatek village residents held a vote on whether to allow a new gold-metal miner to operate in nearby abandoned mining fields. Some residents were concerned about radiation levels. The majority approved the mining with a 44-42 vote. The miner promised 250 jobs.
Russia will provide $2.8mln in aid to help develop tourism and agriculture in Vayots Dzor and Gegarquniq provinces.
Armenian MP mocked the Parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan, saying the regime falsified the results to give their candidates victory, but still failed to achieve the change they intended to see. "The purpose was to make Parliament younger, but only 45 MPs out of 125 were new, and out of 45 only 12 are younger. Now the Central Electoral Committee is busy taking away some winners' mandates."
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1004937.html INTERNET IN ARMENIA
Armenia's international internet traffic capacity rose to 882Gbps, or up 54%, while the cost reduced by 25%.
The % of the population covered with internet service +6.7%
Cable broadband is reachable to +4% more people, reaching 2.83mln.
Wireless broadband is reachable to 9.2% more, or 2.445mln people.
Some gains in fiber-optics. More inside: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1004984.html HRANT TOKHATYAN
"Mer Bake" and "Mea Culpa" actor-comedian Hrant Tokhatyan plans to open a new modern-style theater in the Kanaz Cultural Center, equipped with surround-sound, with tutoring classes.
"For years, Kanaz Center was in bad shape. We negotiated with Yerevan and they leased it to us for $0 in exchange for us to make $1mln investments. Later we learned that the building would need $3.5mln. We're looking for partners. Construction will last 1.5 years," said Tokhatyan.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1004982.html VALENTINE'S DAY
Armenian church celebrated the Տեառնընդառաջ Day dedicated to the presentation of 40-day-old Jesus to the holy temple.
It's also Armenian Valentine's Day. The newlywed receive a blessing from the church.
https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180550 CITY OF ROMANCE
TourStat tourism agency held a vote in which 5% of tourists voted Yerevan as the most romantic city. It placed in the Top-10. Paris and St. Petersburg are the leaders.
What's your romantic spot in Yerevan?
Pashinyan is still in Germany. Spoke about reduction in emigration, recovering $105mln from anti-corruption fight.
He visited the Berlin wall and shared a selfie showing the iconic wall image of USSR leader Leonidas Brezhnev giving a socialist fraternal mouth-to-mouth kiss to East German leader Erich Honecker.
"This isn't an LGBT thing. It was a crime to be gay in both USSR and Easter Germany," noted Pashinyan after realizing the selfie could cause a stir in Armenia.
(Some people use Twitter, while others use selfies to burn down the world...) FOOL ME ONCE
fool me twice... https://youtu.be/GB_S2qFh5lU?t=94
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/f3znwj/feb142020_daily_news_collection_from_armenia_stay/
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