2020 February 6
Feb/6/2020 -- Daily news collection from Armenia -- Stay informed about the ongoing 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.
Constitutional Court (CC) Crisis -- Parliament acts
Yesterday QP said they have a bill to terminate (7 out of 9) CC judges who "don't meet the spirit of 2015 Constitution" (no term limit for them but term limit for others, old judges weren't chosen with the same standards as the new Constitution envisions, poor public trust, etc. yesterday's post has details)
44 QP MPs co-signed to place the bill on the Parliament floor for discussion. The bill needs 88 votes (2/3rd) to pass.
LHK: the Parliamentary Legal Committee hasn't provided an opinion yet. We shouldn't pass it today.
QP to LHK: Parliamentary Legal Committee's sessions are optional in similar situations.
LHK MP: Matter fact, we shouldn't pass this bill al all because there is currently a group tasked with reforming the judicial system as a whole through Constitutional reforms.
Various MPs argued for or against the bill.
BHK: we're taking a 20-minute break to decide.
LHK and QP MPs began arguing about some technicalities of the law during the break. https://youtu.be/5N4X557XVCQ?t=6
the break is over
QP co-author: we won't pass our bill. Instead, we'll place it for a national referendum. Let it be direct democracy. (MP then gave reasons why the bill is necessary, HHK's 2018 shenanigans, how CC chief became a political figure, etc.).
A vote was held: 0 aye - 36 nay - 87 neutral (QP)
PACE committee recommended the MPs to seek advice from the Venice Commission. "Venice can organize a rapid session to examine the proposal. Venice's advice can be presented to the public before the referendum."
LHK MP: I'm against a referendum. Even the public cannot pass laws that violate human rights or bring back a death penalty. There are other ways to solve this problem.
IND MP: I support the referendum. Bandits ruled over Armenia for decades and ruined every institute. Today's crisis can be solved through deep reforms.
A vote was held: 88 aye - 15 nye. The resolution passed. The bill will be placed for a nationwide referendum. https://youtu.be/QMF6LN_2QtA?t=93
PM Pashinyan was also present. He gave a 35-minute speech to defend the proposal and blast HHK's CC hijacking: https://youtu.be/SS-GEvQK2H0?t=22
PM about Serj and Tovmasyan colluding in 2018: https://youtu.be/y4QAKo7G9bA?t=6
QP will discuss the details of sending the bill to the Venice Commission soon. They don't plan to send the bill to CC for its opinion (for obvious reasons), and instead, they'll send the bill directly to President's desk (as in most cases). The President could possibly still forward the bill to CC, but QP believes he will sign it (to authorize a referendum).
https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179887 https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179831 https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179839 https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179841 https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179847 https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179859 https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179871 https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179880 https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179881 https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179868 https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179889 https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179897 https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1003986.html
embezzlement through family
QP earlier passed a bill to authorize investigators to obtain banking info of officials and others who are suspected of committing serious embezzlement. The reason is many times the crooks give their stolen resources to their family members so it won't be visible under their name.
President Sarkissian didn't sign the bill. Instead, he sent it to CC to check its Constitutionality.
Sarkissian vs Roboserj activists
Yesterday a group of former regimes' activists organized a protest outside of president Sarkissian's office, accusing him of helping Azerbaijan's and Turkey's oil businesses.
Sarkissian dismissed the accusations. Says he's never directly or indirectly invested in those countries. Says he never owned British Petroleum shares and "it can be verified because ownership info is public". Says he acted as BP's senior adviser, and per-agreement, the Caucasus region was excluded from his duties. Says Knightsbridge business franchise, in one of which branches he worked in the past, has stopped existing a long time ago, and that it never invested in those countries.
(Sarkissian was appointed in office by Serj in Apr-2018. Since then, various HHK members have repeatedly asked him to intervene against Pashinyan's actions, but he hasn't, and on one occasion he "helped" Pashinyan by delaying HHK's bill in 2018. They're mad at him now.)
Update: Earlier Kocharyan sued investigators to obtain info that was still part of the preliminary March 1st investigation.
Investigators refused, claiming it's still secret. Kocharyan sued and won. Investigators appealed.
Today the Appeals Court sided with investigators' complaint that the lower court exceeded its powers, and overturned the lower court's verdict. Kocharyan can appeal it to Cassations Court.
Former NSS chief Arthur Vanetsyan said Robert Kocharyan should not be in jail because he does not post a threat of intervening with the March 1st case.
Vanetsyan plans to register a political party for those who "don't want Roboserj to return, but at the same time don't like Pashinyan".
He held a discussion with undisclosed members of diaspora for assistance.
He dismissed the investigative report by CivilNet outlet that he owns mining-related shares through offshore firms: "Show me."
Former deputy Education Minister trial
The court extended the jail detention of QP deputy Minister Gevorg Lotetsyan. He was arrested in Dec-2019 and is suspected of abuse of power and helping an ally's soccer business. A soccer club president is a co-defendant in the bribery case. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179861
Former soccer chief trial
Former soccer federation chief and HHK oligarch Ruben "Nemets" Hayrapetyan had his house searched as part of embezzlement and abuse of power investigation. He didn't like the searches and appealed the permit in court. The Appeals court upheld the permit.
Former IRS boss trial
The court earlier ruled HHK Minister Gagik Khachatryan should remain in jail for another 2 months pre-trial. He appealed the verdict. Today the Appeals Court upheld the verdict. He was trying to get out of jail claiming poor health.
Khahcatryan was arrested in Aug-2019. His colleague cousin is a co-defendant in the alleged embezzlement case.
A drunken man held a woman hostage at knifepoint on Tigran Mets Ave. The police apprehended and took him away. https://youtu.be/3r9O6PKFeo0
speaking of Azerbaijan...
Former high ranking Azeri banker Jahangir Hajiyev's wife went on a million-dollar spending spree at a mall and bought a luxury mansion in the UK.
In 2018 she became the first person in the UK to become the subject of an investigation as part of a new "Unexplained Wealth Orders" law that requires people to explain the origins of large money.
Today she was unable to appeal the decision that requires her to provide the explanation. If she can't point to legal origins, her assets will be confiscated.
speaking of shady money
A businesswoman Silva Hambardzumyan earlier testified that she gave Robert Kocharyan millions of dollars in bribes through the help of his aide, in order to be able to do mining business in Armenia. That case is still in court.
Kocharyan sued her for alleged defamation. His lawsuit has now been suspended.
Pashinyan spoke about a customs duty smuggling incident:
Last night Bavra customs duty checkpoint uncovered a large-scale smuggling attempt. Several officials helped the smugglers to evade taxes on imported cars. They just drove-in without paperwork.
Their logic shocks me. I have the impression they don't watch TV or read social media. If anyone believes we're talking about all this in front of cameras just for a show, they are deeply mistaken. The corruption will be defeated in Armenia. No one should doubt. Those who do will get the bitter taste of reality.
NSS busted State Medical University officials. The report says:
The university foundation's chief and another high ranking official forged docs between 2016-2018 to make payments to a sanitation service provider that wasn't even in Armenia in the period. The money was embezzled by the officials. A felony case is launched; the two have been charged.
... cannot be transmitted through buying bananas or receiving parcels from China, said Healthcare Minister Arsen Torosyan, to dismiss some social media rumors. The virus cannot survive long without a living host.
It transmits through air particles or direct close contact with the infected individual. Animals can also transmit it, although only seen in China. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179833
11 Armenian refugee families who fled Azerbaijan during the 88-92 conflict have received apartment ownership certificates from the govt. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179826
ads on public TV
The govt approved a plan to allow H1 public TV to place 5-minute ads per 60-minute show, or no more than 2.5% of a show being ads. This will help reduce their financial reliance on the public budget and have more $ for better programming.
Various organizations earlier complained that this could steal some ads from the private TV (aka competition).
Infrastructure Minister says they have a draft proposal that will allow provincial residents to decide whether they will be joined together and turn into a bigger municipality, or not.
If 20% of residents collect a signature they can place the decision on a referendum vote. The >50% vote will decide if their settlement merges or not.
Pashinyan welcomed people's right to choose their destiny, saying it's one of the things he promised, but advised them to support these mergers because the govt has special infrastructure investment plans in merged larger settlements where they build roads, pipes, etc.
Govt approved a plan to offer a 7% subsidy and loans to businesses that want to build animal slaughterhouse-related services.
Aid with buying mobile slaughterhouses to travel around villages, trucks to transport animals, modular slaughterhouses.
There are currently 38 licensed slaughterhouses and 36 are being built. The govt easier delayed a law that would require farmers to use licensed slaughterhouses for butchering (food safety measure). https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179832
A kid charges towards Pashinyan
PM wrote: Last evening I decided to leave the building for a meeting. A kid's subsequent actions proved once again that everything is going to be alright. You can call this a cheap PR stunt by me, but I asked the secret service to release the footage nonetheless.
Footage shows some kid running and hugging PM after noticing him exit the building: https://www.facebook.com/nikol.pashinyan/videos/1056216564730615/
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/ezyejh/feb62020_daily_news_collection_from_armenia_stay/
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