2020 February 5
Feb/5/2020 --- Daily news collection & anti-corruption from Armenia --- Constitutional Court crisis bill (nuclear) -- High ranking QP official busted -- Yerevan officials busted -- Sports victories -- Various stats -- Coronavirus -- Tourism -- 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.
Constitutional Court crisis -- Parliament could dismiss CC for not being in-line with the type of court envisioned by the 2015 Constitutional amendment
Pashinyan administration has been complaining that HHK invaded the CC with the 2015 vote (went into effect in 2018), by envisioning that judges should have limited terms, while not applying those limits to the existing judges (some being political and loyal to the former regime). In other words, "rules for thee but not for me."
PACE recently agreed with govt's complaints and actions to make the court meet the New Constitutional spirit, calling it "valid". They said it should be voluntary for judges to use a recently passed law to retire sooner while still getting paid a pension. PACE hasn't commented on this new proposal that would terminate the court.
What is the deal?
To bring the CC to a state envisioned by the New Constitutional amendment (2015), QP has a new bill that proposes to amend the Constitution to change the way CC judges are terminated. In other words, they want to get rid of those judges who sit there lifetime because that's against what the New Constitution envisions.
The New Constitution, passed in 2015, went into effect in 2018.
Beginning in 2018, newly appointed judges have a 12-year term limit, but some existing judges can serve until they turn 70, while other existing judges can serve until they turn 65, because they were appointed before 2018. Three rules for judges. This is what QP is complaining about, and this is what PACE said is a "valid" complaint.
To solve this, QP wants to amend the Constitution's 213th clause. It essentially states that the CC members, who were appointed before the New Constitution, are to be automatically terminated.
New judicial nominees will continue to be appointed by govt, president, Supreme Court, and approved by Parliament.
tl;dr of the main reasons: some judges are above others in term limits, the CC is in crisis and harms democracy/sovereignty, CC failed to protect democratic elections in past, low ratings, Parliament is legitimate and has the legal right to do this.
The bill needs 2/3rd of the votes (88MPs) to pass. That is how many MPs QP has. QP must be unanimous within the party-line to pass this if the opposition opposes. LHK has already said they'll oppose the "rushed and political bill" (they want a new Constitution altogether). BHK will likely oppose it because they voted against the bill to proceed to the floor, but they want to hear QP's arguments. The bill's discussion on the Parliament floor will take place tomorrow.
If passed, 7 out of 9 judges will be terminated for not meeting Constitutional demands. The other 2 judges were appointed after the New Constitution kicked in in 2018. These 2 are the only ones who have this 12-year term limit, so they are "within the spirit of the New Constitution".
One of these two judges (Vahe Grigoryan) was approved by QP in 2019, while the other one (Arman Danielyan) was approved by HHK in 2018 while they were still a majority.
Tag: ConstitutionalAmendment ConstitutionalCourt
ARF criticized the proposed bill, calling it a violation of Constitutional Order punishable by 15 years in prison: https://factor.am/219322.html
HHK Ashotyan called it a "treason": https://news.am/arm/news/558631.html
Former Human Rights Ombudsman Karen Andreasyan believes the current Constitutional Court is illegitimate and lashed out on the former regime.
Some bits from his post:
The grieving oligarchy... The former regime and their puppets are complaining about the situation around CC while pointing out criticism of PACE (urged de-escalation). They ignore much harsher criticism they used to receive while they were in power.
They are claiming that govt is pressuring CC members to take advantage of the law allowing them to retire early and still get pension. In reality, they are the ones pressing the judges to stay in power.
They are the "Armenian Oligarchy".
The oligarchy claims to defend the Constitutional institute by shielding CC chief Hrayr Tovmasyan from his criminal past and Pashinyan's scandalous revelations. In reality, the Oligarchy sees Tovmasyan as their last hope to return to power and stomp the public under their feet.
"Poor oligarchy" if Hrayr leaves, "poor people" if Hrayr stays...
QP MP Alen Simonuyan: no one should doubt that CC is the last bastion of the former regime. They occupied all 3 institutes. The liberation process will end this year. I disagree that we must discuss this Constitutional amendment bill with Venice Commission before passing it. The Parliament of Armenia represents the public and if we find it necessary to ask Venice's opinion, we will.
Parliament speaker QP Ararat Mirzoyan met OSCE and EU ambassadors to discuss the CC crisis.
2018 Constitutional takeover
HHK is accused of forging document-dates in 2018 to claim the former CC chief resigned earlier than he did, so they could appoint their follow HHK MP Hrayr Tovmasyan as the new CC chief to hijack the CC before the new Constitution would become active.
HHK speaker Babloyan and a Parliamentary official were charged as part of this alleged scheme. Their case was sent back to investigators for more info. It has just been sent back to prosecutors again to proceed with the court trial.
Babloyan was earlier arrested but released on bail after 2 people vouched for his good behavior if kept free.
Pashinyan during a govt session:
We need to have a consensus on these 6 things.
1) No violence. Solve problems peacefully.
2) Respect people's right to vote and have an opinion. Armenia must help Artsakh people to have free elections.
3) Armenia and Artsakh have sovereignty, and anyone who tries to introduce foreign influence must be fiercely opposed (Samvel Babayan and Russia?).
4) No corruption in Armenia and Artsakh. Can't abuse powers to create monopolies or harm opponent businesses.
5) Rule of law. No one is above the law. Courts that are pressured from inside or outside are a threat to national security.
5) The purpose of Artsakh conflict negotiations is to provide freedom and security to people. A decision by Armenian or Artsakh govt can be made only if the publics support it.
World and Europe champion weightlifter Simon "thicc boy" Martirosyan has won silver in the Fajr, Iran competition after lifting 410KG combined. He yielded the 1st place to Iran's Ali Davoudi who managed to lift yo mama.
Former Russian wrestler and World/Olympic champion Khadzhimurat Gatsalov joined the Armenian national team.
funny and weird
A 9-year-old girl called 911 to ask for help to retrieve her banana that fell onto the 3rd floor of apartment complex building. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179773
A new rule requires Turkmen cabinet members to have wavy hairs and not dye them, to look more like their dictator Gurbanguli Berdm..etc. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/179756
Anti-Aliyev Azeri blogger Mehman Huseynov is running for the upcoming Parliamentary elections. He published an audiotape allegedly showing how his opponent offered him a bribe to drop his bid.
Most common newborn names in 2019: Nare/Maria/Arpi and David/Narek/Hayk.
Egg prices are down from 55-70 to ~35 (each) in some supermarkets because of oversupply. It's good for buyers but bad for small egg businesses because of thinner margins. Some of them are complaining about losing $.
The number of eggs produced in...
High-ranking Yerevan official busted by NSS
NSS raided the office of QP-appointed Urban Development Chief Vahagn Vermishyan. Computers and docs were confiscated. He was accompanied out by NSS.
He was arrested. He confessed to taking large amounts of bribes from 5 construction firms to help them accelerate approve their papers. In another instance, he took a bribe to give an "honorary builder" title to someone.
3 other bribe givers have been arrested.
A felony case is launched.
Vermishyan was appointed in Mar-2019. He served as former Yerevan mayor's adviser in 2017-2018. On paper, he owns 6 apartments, 2 cars, 130mln.
Pashinyan responded: we aren't joking when we say there are no former and current corruptionaires. Everyone will face justice. This was a high profile case.
more Yerevan officials busted
NSS says they busted high ranking Yerevan municipality officials with 450mln embezzlement.
In 2014 the city signed a contract with DAVARS firm to clean up commercial trash, river basin, building trash systems.
Yerevan officials allowed the firm to violate the contract with insufficient work and signed deliberately exaggerated contracts.
The firm was paid 1.8bln between 2015-2019, out of which 450mln was stolen. A felony case is launched.
In 2018 the NSS raided former PM Hovik "Muk" Abrahamyan's factory and found large quantities of hidden illegal weapons. They were forensically examined but weren't linked to March 1st shootings. Nonetheless, a felony case was launched for illegal possession. Today the case reached the court. Hovik's brother is charged.
soldier death felony
Update: Yesterday we learned that HHK MP Shmays's son was charged with driving a soldier to suicide in Jan-30-2020. His two alleged accomplices have been charged as well.
found the kid
Update: Earlier a Constitutional Court judge said his estranged wife abducted his child. The child was found. Their conflict was resolved without felony charges.
supplies for war
Emergency Ministry has a draft bill, approved by a preliminary Parliamentary committee, that will require large scale importers of economically crucial things like wheat, fuel, oil, sugar to have an extra 10% storage left unused for "rainy day".
The idea is since Armenia has to rely on imports for such items, and war could disrupt the trade, Armenia must have enough to be self-sustainable for some period.
Right now, the govt buys this 10% reserve from private firms and keeps it, then sells it when the product approaches expiration date. But since govt is bad at business, they sustain large financial losses while selling the items to the private sector for much cheaper prices.
The proposal is to require large importers to do this instead of the govt. They'll use their own storage.
Update: Yesterday Pashinyan complained that a restaurant, owned by Arshak Zakaryan, didn't print the IRS-visible receipt. (see Feb/4/2020 post)
Artsakh minister says they issued the restaurant a 75k fine for that violation. The restaurant was registered in Jan-2018 and began operating in Jul-2019.
Last year the IRS found 82 instances of violations in general, up from 43 in 2018. There is an IRS hotline where people can call and report.
Coronavirus - What is Armenia doing?
859 Chinese nationals or those visiting from China arrived since Jan-27-2020. Upon arrival (air or land), they filled out special cards with personal info so local clinics can keep in touch with them for the next 14 days to routinely ask about any health symptoms.
40 had symptoms of bololavirus and were hospitalized, just in case. 14 are still in a hospital. No confirmed cases of the virus.
Clinics are trained to contact the Emergency Ministry if a patient shows certain symptoms typical to bololavirus.
Armenia received 200 reagents that can be used to detect the virus. Another 200 are on their way. (China made virus so they can sell reagent tests to the world conspiracy theory CONFIRMED...discuss in comments)
Healthcare Minister: Fewer kids are dying. 0-1yo: 224 vs 261. 0-5yo: 276 vs 317. Special thanks to obstetrician-gynecologists, children's to reanimatologists, etc.
Armenian singers are competing to win the ticket to Eurovision 2020. Here are their songs: https://armtimes.com/hy/article/179762
National Geographic: The Cool List: celebrating the reasons to travel in 2020
Yerevan is listed. "New routes are opening up to the Armenian capital, one of the world’s oldest continually inhabited cities"
Winter Sports and Ecotourism Are Trending in Armenia.
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/ezgipa/feb52020_daily_news_collection_anticorruption/
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