2020 February 9

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Anti-Corruption Daily

Feb/9/2020 -- Daily News Collection From Armenia -- Stay informed about the ongoing Constitutional Court crisis, Anti-Corruption Busts, Politics, Economy, Diaspora, Daily Life, and more...
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.


Explosive interview with a former official who investigated the 1999 terror attack, and Russia's takeover of Armenian infrastructure. He speaks about former NSS chief Arthur Vanetsyan's ties with the former regime.

Context: Former NSS (National Security Services) chief Arthur Vanetsyan was earlier fired by Prime Minister Pashinyan. Vanetsyan says he quit. Before and after his departure, info was circulated about his connections with the former regime members (he doesn't deny), members of the criminal subculture (he denies), and an instance of him allegedly tipping off a criminal friend so the latter could escape arrest, who would later return him the favor by helping him with the anti-Pashinyan media propaganda. Vanetsyan is accused of being behind a fake media smear campaign against Pashinuyan and his family with the help of Roboserj circles.


Taron Sahakyan (TS) is a former MP and served as Armenia's special representative in the Russian government between 2000-2003. He is also a former investigator. He gave an interview.

TS links Vanetsyan's recent anti-Pashinyan activation with the resuming of October 27, 1999 terror attack re-investigation.

As a reminder, terrorists killed Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsyan and others in the Parliament in 1999.

After the terror attack, the felony case that was supposed to investigate whether the terrorists received external aid, was suppressed by the Kocharyan administration, according to former investigators who were tasked with investigating the case.

Recently, the NSS, after Vanetyan's departure, re-opened this investigation. (Initially, terrorist Nairi Hunanyan testified that Kocharyan's chief of staff provided them with aid. Then the alleged suppression by Kocharyan happened, the case was closed, the terrorist retracted his claim about Kocharyan's staff providing them aid.)


Back to TS's interview. Below is his speech, with some comments from me...

When claims were made recently about Vanetsyan organizing a "coup" against Pashinyan, the NSS said they had no info about such coup. TS, however, says he provided evidence to NSS about Vanetsyan's "coup". He also provided info about Vanetsyan's shady dealings in the Yerevan Municipality and some drugs-related scheme. (details later)

TS gave this info to NSS and Prosecutors and asked them to attach that info to the new 1999 terror attack investigation; so far they haven't. He wants felony charges against Vanetsyan, former deputy NSS chief Arzuman Harutyunyan, former NSS intelligence-unit Colonel Eduard Harutyunyan, for their alleged role in the attempted coup, and for taking steps to destroy 1999 terror attack evidence. (big, if true)


TS says he examined Vanetsyan's career advancements from a rank-and-file apparatchik serving in Masis in 2000, to the chief of NSS in 2018.

TS explains what he meant by Vanetsyan and his shady dealings in Yerevan Municipality: Vanetsyan lobbied to appoint Grigor Zakian as a Yerevan official who was tasked with sabotaging the city administration.

TS says Vanetsyan also intervened to cover up drug busts and blocked felony cases, some in Masis where he served in the past. TS says he won't reveal all details about what Vanetsyan did in Masis. He says that between 2006-2009, when Vanetsyan served in Yerevan's Erebuni branch, this region's criminal subculture was active and cooperating with Chechen criminals located in Moscow.

TS criticized the NSS for misleading Pashinyan and not taking the coup accusations against (their former boss) Vanetsyan seriously.


Q: Vanetsyan recently cozied up with Chechen leader Akhmad Kadyrov on social media. Does this mean their friendship isn't new and it existed from the Masis drug deal times you mentioned?

TS: says he doesn't know Vanetsyan-Kadyrov personal connection details, but the Moscow criminal story he mentioned (part of which were Vanetsyan's criminal friends) is not connected with Chechen leader Kadyrov himself.


TS continues...

What happened after Vanetsyan was appointed as the NSS chief? He continuously presented himself as a pro-Russian figure (leaked call), at one point he announced then retracted his claim that Kocharyan took a $5mln bribe, something that even an amateur cop wouldn't do (TS implies that he might have done it purposely).

TS says when Vanetsyan was fired, he used NSS's official website to rebuke (his boss) Pashinyan. This is unprecedented on a global scale, and it is Pashinyan's fault for allowing this to happen and for not taking action against Vanetsyan.


Q: the media is writing that Vanetsyan's money for the new party is coming from Russia-based Armenian oligarchs. (Vanetsyan personally claimed, without giving details, that he spoke with some diasporan Armenians about his political party creation)

TS: the ongoing Operation Vanetsyan, which is similar to Operation Skripal (misinformation campaign to harm Pashinyan-Russia ties) and other Operations, can have bad consequences if Pashinyan allows this to continue. The NSS is not acting, even after I provided them with evidence of Vanetsyan's past actions. I believe Operation Vanetsyan is here to hinder the new 1999 terror attack investigation.

(Apparently, TS is one of the investigators who worked to find out if 1999 terrorists received aid from others. This is the investigation that Kocharyan shut down, according to several former investigators. The former chief investigator Jhanginryan also gave an interview recently where he mentioned how his team became a subject of felony investigations by Kocharyan as a way to pressure for their investigation to stop.)

TS continues...

In 2005 they (Kocharyan admin) launched a felony case against me to claim that I acted illegally during the 1999 terror investigation. This was their (Kocharyan admin) way to cover up their illegal shutdown of the investigation by claiming that we (investigators) abused our powers.

Operation Vanetsyan's purpose is to hide 1999's geopolitical traces. All 3 presidents of Armenia, including Levon Ter-Petrosyan (LTP), must be questioned.


TS continues...

Kocharyan and Vladimir Putin signed a memorandum for Russia to take over some Armenian infrastructure. This takeover was being investigated by me. In 2002 there was an attempt to silence me with the help of Yezidi criminal subculture members Imidashvili and Boghnadyan. This is when Russia's Inter RAO energy firm representatives (related to what TS was investigating) came to Armenia and spent 6 hours in Levon Ter-Petrosyan's house. Then the Sevan-Hrazdan electricity plant was given to Russia. They should question Levon Ter-Petrosyan about this - all 3 presidents must be questioned.

Tag: #ArthurVanetsyan #ArthurVanetsyanCoup #1999 #NairiHunanyan #RobertKocharyan

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFUYe0c7Pg8

Constitutional Court crisis -- Referendum -- QP explains why CC needs to go

Parliament deputy-speaker QP MP Lena Nazaryan gave an interview about the upcoming Constitutional court referendum. They want to fire 7 out of 9 judges for "being above others" (read the previous post for details).

Q: when is the referendum?

A: towards the end of March, maybe.

Q: is it possible that President Sarkissian won't sign the bill to begin the referendum?

A: No. We spoke with Sarkissian earlier.

Q: all QP MPs voted in favor of the referendum. What happened to the deep division within the party that some outlets constantly wrote in the past?

A: there has never been a deep division in our party. We can have disagreements on some issues, but during important questions we're united.

Q: When did you come up with the idea to fire the non-compliant judges through a bill/referendum?

A: a few weeks ago.

Q: this isn't the first bill about CC.

A: Yes. We passed one to allow CC judges to respectfully resign early and still qualify for their pension. There is still time until the bill expires (until February?). If the judges take advantage of this bill, there won't be a need for a referendum.

Q: some people criticize and say, why did you place it on a referendum and plan to spend large money to organize a vote, if you could do it with a Parliament vote?

A: those who say that aren't familiar with the issue in-depth, and sometimes those who say it are opposition figures who make populistic complaints. The problem is, the new Constitution does not allow Parliament to make changes to the Constitution without CC's authorization.

If in the past they were complaining about the Prime Minister having too much power and being a super-PM, then now we have a super-CC. This was a calculated move by the former regime. Now we're letting the ultimate decision-maker (public) to decide it instead of the CC.

Q: what were you arguing about with the opposition during the bill's discussion?

A: we argued with LHK. They say there are procedural violations with the referendum. LHK continues to make these mistakes. Back in the days when QP and LHK were both part of the Yelq Alliance, LHK's legal experts and chief Marukyan

himself would read the Constitution and claim we didn't have the legal procedure to remove Serj Sargsyan from power (LMAO. QP is stabbing LHK so badly now). Of crouse, there was no Constitutional procedure written in there to help remove Serj. If we listened to LHK Marukyan's complaints about technicalities around procedures, there would never be a 2018 revolution.

Q: what is LHK's complain about dismissing the CC now.

A: they say the current CC isn't directly affecting the public's lives negatively, people usually complain about lower courts, so let's focus on reforming the lower courts.

I disagree with LHK about CC not affecting public life negatively. The CC recently passed a decision Number 14.88 that limits the Supreme Court's (different from CC) powers, which in turn, will reduce the effectiveness of the upcoming judicial reforms by limiting the powers of the Supreme Court in the judicial VETTING procedure. (Thanks, Hrayr.)

They ask why to spend resources to organize a referendum. I'll answer: it's to make this decision weighted and legitimate.

I don't understand how LHK can be satisfied and do nothing about the status-quo in which HHK MP Hrayr Tovmasyan wrote the Constitution, gave himself more powers than others, then hijacked CC chief's chair for life. If we let this slip now, in future we might be accused of closing the eye on such power-grab, then everybody will point the finger at us and claim we support such power-grab because we allowed it to slip through. We must end it now.

Q: the former regime members are saying that by holding a referendum, QP is illegally appropriating powers.

A: ...by having the public decide through a referendum? It's absurd, I won't further comment on their complaint.

Q: there were calls made with international institute reps. Did you speak about the referendum?

A: yes, we informed them about how we plan to solve this issue. Venice Commission can provide advice, and it's limited to providing (a non-binding) advice.

Q: is it possible the referendum will fail?

A: possible, but we'll see. People who voted for LHK and BHK can still vote in favor of this Constitutional change, unlike their political parties that chose not to vote in the Parliament (shots fired).

Tags: #ConstitutionalCourt #Referendum

https://youtu.be/6SphhLaEGzY

referendum date

It turns out President Sarkissian does not have to sign the referendum bill because it's regulated differently than ordinary bills that are sent to his desk by the Parliament.

The Parliament sent the referendum to President Sarkissian's office. The President [essentially "signed" and] scheduled the referendum to be held on April 5th.

Pashinyan said: since there are cheap airplane tickets now, I encourage diasporan Armenians to be in Armenia on April 5th and to participate in the referendum. I know many of you wanted to participate in the 2018 revolution but couldn't do it. Say YES to rule of law and a happy future by participating in April.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180106 https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180108 https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1004232.html

PM: https://www.facebook.com/nikol.pashinyan/videos/628619214348252/

NSS busted the former Finance Minister and his deputy. The report says:

The deputy is placed on a wanted list for abusing his powers and wasting resources by colluding with the former 2014-2016 Finance Minister HHK Gagik Khachatryan (currently arrested on other charges) to purchase 8500 unnecessary electronic locks worth 2.3bln. Only 2,000 locks were supposed to be purchased at the time, while as of right now the demand is only 250. A felony case is launched.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180042

Police busted their fellow policeman. The report says:

A police investigator got arrested by Gyumri police officers on the spot while taking a bribe in exchange for helping a suspect avoid felony charges. A felony case is launched.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180053 https://youtu.be/3Bi8oCqVp-Q

criminal subculture

A gunfight erupted in Vanadzor between the members of the criminal subculture. One "thieve" named "bazumi Aghas" was killed. Several wounded. One car, presumably belonging to thieves, was torched with a gun inside it. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180109

Armenia's war on soyboys

PM Pashinyan approved a plan to require dairy manufacturers to color-code the food containers based on their ingredients. If the dairy product has >30% soy or other vegetable content instead of real cow milk, it has to have a different color. This will prevent manufacturers from misleading consumers.

"People don't have to carry around a magnifier while shopping to read tiny labels," earlier said Pashinyan while complaining about food labels not being clear enough for consumers. "The new standard will also increase demand for milk," said PM.

Some manufacturers are complaining about the cost associated with color-coding the containers because they have a wide variety of products and would need to change labels for all. "It'll take time and resources."

"Ani" dairy producer is happy with the change because their containers already meet the proposed color-standards so no extra expenditure from them. "When you enter supermarkets today, the dairy section is like a library. It's confusing the consumer," said their agent.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/178765

marriage and divorce

2008 marriage/divorce: 18k/3k

2018 marriage/divorce: 15k/4k

The average age of first-time marriage has been rising, as is does around the world:

2008 men/women: 28yo/24yo

2018 men/women: 30yo/26yo

Belgium has the highest divorce rate at 70% (wtf?). The USA at 53%. Chile officially has the lowest divorce rate at 3% (press doubt).

Divorces rise because of rising expectations from the spouse, and people becoming less religious. 3/4th of divorces are initiated by women.

Share of divorces in each religion: Christian 37%, Buddhist 30%, Jewish 28%, Muslim 20%, Hindu 1%.

An expert gives more reasons: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/179863

Syrian aid

It's been a year since Armenia sent a humanitarian envoy to the Aleppo region. 126,000 m2 area cleared of dozens of unexploded mines. 10k patients were treated. 1.3k lab tests. Safety classes taught for the local population. Meds are being donated to Aleppo hospitals. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180061

heavy snow

Heavy snow across Armenia left hundreds of cars and passengers stranded on dangerous roads. Emergency Ministry evacuated passengers and temporarily moved them to heated tents. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180078

Yerevan municipality spent the night cleaning the streets with plowers and salt: https://youtu.be/u5cKT7Mnwrs?t=5

healthcare

The total turnover of the healthcare industry rose 25% vs 2017, or by 39bln. 3.4% more healthcare workers. 29% salary rise.

Graph: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1004199.html

chess wages

In 2020 the Yerevan municipality increased the chess teachers' salaries by 60%. The chess budget's funding +37%. https://factor.am/220167.html

happy and optimistic

GALLUP International survey says Armenia is the 5th most "optimistic" country in the world among 46 surveyed nations.

62% said 2020 will be better than 2019. Only 7% said it'll be worse.


The second survey placed Armenia as the 7th happiest country.

13% very happy ( <-- true size of gay population)

60% happy

23% neutral

2% unhappy

1% very unhappy

In both surveys, 1.5k people from across Armenia participated.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1004198.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1004200.html

opera scandal

The opera singer Ruzan Mantashyan, who was at the center of a scandal involving an Azeri singer allegedly pressuring for her to be disinvited for her Armenian ethnicity, has finally performed at the Dresden SemperOpernball event. She did great.

👏👏👏 https://youtu.be/IS5zU4i0x5A?t=1

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/180054

sports

Henrikh Mkhitaryan's injury vacation is over. He returned and scored a beautiful goal for Roma against Bologna.

👏👏👏 https://streamable.com/1yta9

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1004160.html

cybertruckchurch

Armenian diaspora in Ukraine proposed a design for a new Armenian church in Kropyvnytskyi city: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1004191.html


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/f1g6sx/feb92020_daily_news_collection_from_armenia_stay/


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