2020 January 16
Jan/16/2020 :: Daily news collection from Armenia :: Stay informed about the Anti-Corruption busts, Politics, Economy, Diaspora, Daily Life, and more... so you can tell your uncle next time he asks "so what else is happning in Armenia?"
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.
accusations of BHK chief Gagik Tsarukyan extorting a business
A business owner Tadevosyan (hereby Founder) is complaining that BHK chief Gagik Tsarukyan stole a company from him under threats. The full shares went under the control of Tsarukyan's Multi Group company's director Sedrak Arustamyan (hereby MultiSedrak), who is currently under investigation in a money laundering case around North-South highway.
Founder says: "I was threatened to sign a document to give my shares of a fish breeding business to Tsarukyan, or else they said they would retaliate."
A few weeks ago MultiSedrak claimed someone broke into a fish business which is 100% owned by him. They countered the intruder thieves, a scuffle happened, they called the cops on intruders, said MultiSedrak. The intruders were trying to move some fish from that factory to another factory, owned by the intruders. The intruder is the Founder, the man who claims he owned part of the business.
Then a similar incident happened. This time the Founder called the police on MultiSedrak.
The Founder tells the story:
I wrote a letter to Pashinyan and prosecutors to report a crime and business extortion. I created this business from scratch in 2010 with the help of my friend Shaqaryan (hereby Friend). My Friend then sold his shared to me and I became the 100% owner. Then came the former Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan and BHK Gagik Starukyan and said they would help me financially and make my firm powerful in exchange for running the business together. I hesitantly agreed.
34% went to Tsarukyan, 33% to Founder, 33% to Prime Minister Abrahamyan's son Jonik. Tsarukyan promised to make investments in exchange for those shares. However, Tsarukyan only invested a third of what he promised, claiming that there is a financial crisis in the world and he can't invest more.
2 years later, together with the other 2 shareholders, we founded 2 other fish firms, in which we were equal shareholders.
Besides this, PM's son and I were doing another side business together. Tsarukyan got jealous. They invited me to Tsarukyan's dacha to speak with Tsarukyan. He told me that it's against the law for PM's son and me together to do a fish business without him. He then spoke with PM's son about the same thing at my presence. He told us that we can't do a side business, that he invested a lot of money to help us. He then told us that we should quit this business and do our own thing. I think he planned this tactic with PM's son ahead of time because the latter easily agreed to quit after Tsarukyan told him to.
PM's son's shares went under the ownership of a joint business we owned. It was then distributed to us. We became 50/50 owners of this fish factory. The business was worth ~$1. Tsarukyan then decided to get rid of me too. He sent Multi Group auditors to check the business, which was a pretense for giving full ownership to MultiSedrak.
I resisted the takeover. Tsarukyan threatened to destroy me and said «Ես խնամուս ձեռքից խլել եմ բաժնեմասը, հիմա որ դու իմ անունով չձեւակերպես, ես իմ խնամիների հետ խնդիրներ կունենամ: Այսինքն, որ իբր քո ձեռքից էլ եմ խլում» (Tsarukyan apparently pretended the takeover from Founder was only temporary just to show PM's son that Tsarukyan also took the business from the Founder, so PM's son wouldn't feel cheated, in reality, Tsarukyan had no intentions to return the shares to Founder)
This was 2016, Tsarukyan's years of unruliness. He had connections with govt. They brought the papers for me to sign. Tsarukyan was saying "don't worry fam, we got you, it's only temporary, I'm not a son of a bitch (ես շան տղա չեմ, Ծառուկյանն իր խոսքի տերն ա)".
They never returned my shares. In late-2019 I went to MultiSedrak and told him to return my shares or else I'd declare war against them.
In Dec-10-2019 they told me Tsarukyan wants to meet me at the Shangrila casino. They invited me to the table. Everyone was there. Tsarukyan and I separated from the group. I told him I want to end my ties with Tsarukyan. He tried to convince otherwise. I reminded him that it's been 4 years they won't give me my shares back. He said I'll either work at the factory with them, or nothing, and that I don't own any of the factory shares. I said goodbye then. He told me to "siktir".
Next day Multi Group workers and I clashed at the factory. They wouldn't allow my son's fish to be extracted from the waters. Let the law enforcement decide. I'm not afraid of TSarukyan.
The above is the story told by the businessman.
Armtimes outlet contacted MultiSedrak but the latter didn't respond. Armtimes then contacted the Founders Friend who works with Tsarukyan.
Friend says: I was invited to a police station to testify. I'm the director of the fish factory. The Founder came and hindered our work. Police were called. The real owner is MultiSedrak, who appointed me as director. Tsarukyan has nothing to do with this. The Founder is a liar. I don't know when MultiSedrak got the ownership, I was appointed as a director recently. (then how do you know the Founder is lying?)
This story is from yesterday.
There are at least 2 TV channels that could change their logo to add a "corruption" tag. There needs to be transparency in the media field and no monopolies.
There are 2 institutes in the media field: one handles media advertising finances, another measures TV ratings and distributes money based on that. This is the structure that has been monopolized.
Media outlets and NGOs need transparency including their ownership info being public.
The media field is open and democratic, and some corruption peddlers operate networks. At least 2 of them could essentially change their name to add a corruption tag. For example "Corruption Group". (He's referring to BHK chief Gagik Tsarukyan's Multi Group company)
The ongoing media war against the public helps us better fight against corruption. Eventually, they need to have the "corruption" tag, tho. In some instances, I make bets with friends about which corrupt politicians, that are currently going through trials, will be invited and glorified next by such outlets.
Justice Minister Rustam Badasyan: ongoing transparency reforms will envision making media ownership information more transparent. (This was earlier supported and encouraged by a union of journalists and free speech advocates who want to improve trust towards media by increasing transparency.)
TV & Radio laws discussion
The chief of the TV & Radio Committee went to Parliament and asked them to remove the existing law that prohibits local radio-stations in Lori and Shirak provinces."It's an absurd restriction. Even bordering regions, in which radio is a matter of national security, aren't allowed to have it. All free radio waves in provinces should be given to those who want to broadcast", said Tigran Hakobyan.
He then explained the proposed reforms:
The proposed radio-airways reforms should have been done 5 years ago. The current sate of media laws is archaic.
We need to remove restrictions on some equipment requirements so more people can create their own media outlets. The public-sector outlets are currently regulated more strictly than the non-traditional TV medium providers, which creates unfair competition conditions for them.
If you podcast our outlet online or with "new" methods, you'll be free to do what you want, but if you call yourself a TV network and use satellite or TV airways, you should follow a set of standards. This is done everywhere including the EU. The standards require information diversity and non-misleading coverage of news, which we don't have in Armenia today. The new law should regulate this.
About public "multiplex". There is one big airway pipe. They stuffed all channels in that pipe. This distorts the point of Public Multiplex.
What is the point of Public Multiplex? Each country has to have public channels that provide free entertainment and info to population. These public TVs have a strict set of standards in all countries, except Armenia, where it's anarchy. If such rules are implemented, not all TVs will meet the standards. Only the ones that qualify will be in the Public Multiplex. All TVs in this Public Multiplex are free and broadcasted across Armenia.
What are the minimal standards TVs must meet to be in the Public Multiplex? Respect public peace, adopt a humane approach, protect national interests, provide fair news coverage, balance the share of entertainment/info/culture programming, 70% of programming language must be in Armenian, at least 40% of content made in Armenia. etc.
There is an argument around this between free speech advocates and those who want public to receive politically independent and non-misleading information. We are yet to achieve an agreement on this.
European countries have done this. Public Multiplex (minimum social package) still exists to serve the population that doesn't have cable.
Those TVs that don't qualify for the aforementioned standards can continue to operate on the Private Multiplex. This is what we need to create in Armenia. The existing law was created in the past deliberately in a way to prevent the creation of the Private Multiplex. We need to reduce some regulations to encourage Private Multiplex investments.
But some TV networks say it's not financially beneficial to be in Private Multiplex. They want to do their business, they want to decide which share of programming is entertainment (money-maker), what share is in Armenia language, etc. Their ideal vision may not meet the aforementioned standards.
At the same time, they want to continue to use Public Multiplex because it has the best coverage across Armenia.
Only 40% of Armenians have cable TV coverage. TV networks find this coverage too small, so they want to spread their content across Public Multiplex to maximize revenues.
We need to work on making it profitable.
Tag: #TVLaw #PublicTelevision #TVreform #TV&Radio #television
"Armenia's anti-trust agency to reveal monopolists in the local media market"
TV & Radio Committee will hire an international auditing firm to audit the media field. It'll verify the reliability of telemonitoring tech to see if it complies with international criteria.
"Taking into account the experience of past years and complaints about the media field in 2019, this year one of the 5 priority monitoring areas will be examining the media advertising market, the mechanisms used to distribute advertising and the relationship between TV companies," chief said.
Pashinyan about poverty aid reforms: the kids in poor families need help to get education and skills. Those who are disabled should receive full support, but the able-bodied non-workers need to be encouraged to find work. We need a dialogue with the public about this.
A group of farmers was protesting outside the govt building. "Pashinyan says people should stand up and work, but when we do, they take away our ability", complained one butcher, who says his revenues took an impact after recent changes to the law.
The reason is stricter food safety laws regulating the meat slaughtering industry.
Last year a law was passed requiring slaughtering be done in areas that have certain safety standards. A meeting was held between butchers and Food Safety Committee. At the time the plan was that those farmers who didn't meet the standards would sell the animals to slaughtering facilities, who would come and pick up the animals.
The Food Safety administration met the protesters to discuss.
Pashinyan wasn't happy with the protesters' conduct: there is a big garbage bin in the area. When they left the area, there were lots of cigarette butts on the ground. And then they demand us not to increase the sanitary conditions for meat purchased from them.
The Food Safety Committee conducted audits in supermarkets and a few other chains and found that the meat met the safety standards.
One requirement is the butcher has to have a veterinary document that has a QR code that points to electronic info about the meat's origins, where it was butchered, medical info about the animals. Agency will continue to enforce the new rules.
Food Safety committee met representatives of dozens of slaughterhouse reps and farmers. The certified butcheries signed a contract with the Committee, which requires them to pick up and transport live animals to the butchery area at their own expense, and to transport the meat to its destination at their own expense within a 30KM radius. Prices were set for butchering each type of animal.
People are still allowed to slaughter their animals for personal consumption and festivities, but for business, they need to follow the safety and health standards.
no daily savings time
Govt rejected QP MP Alen Simonyan's bill to adjust the summer and winter clock in March and October. It was meant to add 50 minutes of light time throughout the day.
Based on observations in other countries, in Armenia, it could reduce artificial light usage hours by 9% or up to 1.1bln AMD. But it could also reduce human productivity by 650mln because of some accidents due to people needing time to adjust physically.
Govt found that the bill's math was flawed in some areas and was financially risky. Only 70 out of 200 countries still change clocks. None in EAEU do. 84% of European citizens are against it, and beginning next year the EU states will have the right not to change clocks. Jet flight issues could arise.
Govt will not amend the current law.
Justice Minister Rustam Badasyan met US ambassador Lynne to discuss police and anti-corruption reforms.
Police arrested several members of the criminal subculture.
Getting dragged out of Brabus: https://youtu.be/eEsXLoEyxFM
Update: Several birth clinics in provinces are set to lose license because not enough pregnant women go there, which damages the doctor's experience and raises the risk of harm to the newborn child. Some clinics had no specialty doctors.
Healthcare Ministry decided to give a few clinics up to 1 year to meet the requirements by finding doctors, etc.
Healthcare Ministry issued a warning to the 5th Channel and a birth clinic for violating safety rules. The outlet went to film a birth LIVE (is this even a thing?). They didn't wear protection. The doctor didn't have a mask. This is concerning especially since it's a flu season, says the memo.
Razmik Abrahamyan is a clinic official accused of child trafficking in the infamous case busted by NSS a few months ago. For years, dozens of kids were fraudulently stolen from parents and taken abroad.
The suspect has bad health and earlier went to the hospital. A court trial happened today.
Mother of a child tells suspect: I hope you have good health until I find my child.
Suspect: our clinic has nothing to do with those adoptions.
Mother: you told me my child was dead, but she wasn't.
Suspect: eh, go search and find her.
Mother: How can I find the child now? You were present at birth.
Govt gave a tax waiver to Nikola International firm to make 1.6bin investments to import and process olives in Kotayk.
Pashinyan: It's too hot in Armenia. If it continues like this we will grow olives next winter. There are already some attempts, but it's not significant on a grand scale.
Last year Yerevan municipality opposition Luys alliance got in hot water for crossing the line and creating bolola. In addition, accusations were made by them that some donors donated garbage trucks to Yerevan in exchange for favors. The municipality provided docs to counter the "favor" rumors. Looks like mayor Hayk Marutyan has had it enough.
Mayor's spokesman says:
A few months ago certain officials began to spread fake news. Then, LHK chief Edmon Marukyan went on TV and said the donors didn't give a truck but rather cash so the city could buy the garbage trucks. A similar thing was said by Luys MP Khajakyan on Azatutyun media.
None of them provided any evidence, and they couldn't because that's misinformation.
Today mayor Marutyan sent letters to both of them asking for either evidence or retraction.
NSS vs army theft
NSS busted 85 tons of fuel theft in the Army.
Memo: a group of soldiers colluded in late-2019 to steal and sell 40mln worth fuel meant for exercises. They got caught while smuggling the next batch. A felony case is launched.
An Armenian soldier was wounded in the northeastern region. That's the area that's active due to Azeri attempts to strengthen their positions. Earlier one Azeri soldier was killed during attempted engineering work.
Pashinyan administration earlier created a group consisted of NGOs and law enforcement to work together to improve transparency whenever a soldier dies and an investigation opens.
The group has sent a petition to re-open one such criminal investigation that was earlier shut down. The request was accepted and the case re-opened.
Civil Aviation chief Tatevik Revazyan worked as a waiter at the ROOMZ restaurant for 4 hours. All tips went towards medical care for a kid named Tigran Amirkhanyan.
engineering labs ArmAt
The Education Ministry's budget for ArMat engineering program, in millions of Drams:
2014: 14 but for salaries only
2015: 23 but for salaries only
2016: 23 but for salaries only
2017: 127 but for salaries only
2018: 187 but for salaries only
2019: 352 but for salaries only, plus 834mln for 284 new lab installations (until this point ArmAt itself was finding cash for labs, now Ministry chips-in too)
5 soccer playgrounds were opened in Gegharquniq... under the snow.
Gucci's Armenian model Armine Harutyunyan is back in Italy for a new photoshoot, just so you know.
It all started last year when she went to Berlin to attend her favorite K-Pop concert. A Gucci recruiter saw and asked if she's interested in auditioning. She was asked to fly the next day but she couldn't due to the Visa regime. She eventually did. No makeup or special attire was allowed for the "natural" contest. Alessandro Michele was the judge.
President Sarkissian has been թրև գալ in the Middle East lately. He met Rotana Hotel chief and an investor in Abu Dhabi. They spoke about cooperation.
A 2,000 - 3,000-year-old dungeon, and several 200yo cellar and storages were discovered by archeologists on Dalma gardens located in Yerevan's Malatia-Sebastia district.
They wrote a letter to PM and law enforcement to halt any construction work in the area. Education Ministry confirmed the archeological findings after a 4-day examination. An archeological agency was instructed to preserve the findings.
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/epq3nf/jan162020_daily_news_collection_from_armenia_stay/
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