2020 January 25
Jan/25/2020 - News :: PM's press conference :: Pashinyan clashes with Constitutional Court chief :: Accuses HHK of "bribing" foreign officials :: Civil Aviation employees resist the system -- corruption bust :: George Soros :: other topics by PM :: Yerevan park owners
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.
Today we have very spicy news. From Civil Aviation to George Soro, to Hrayr Tovmasyan. Prime Minister Pashinyan gave press conferences. Here are some bits:
Q: in 2016 you said the April-2016 battles happened with the knowledge and agreement of Russia. Do you still think that way?
A: We met and discussed this in a friendly atmosphere with the Russian colleagues, analyzed it, all the answers were given. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/178926
There was no state coup recently, but there was a "revenge" by the former regime. There were dreams about a coup. There were sackings of officials, including those representing the former regime.
Q: Former NSS chief Arthur Vanetsyan says he's going to "speak" soon. Are you concerned?
A: No. There is a Kargin Haghordum comedy sketch by Hayko Mko in which the man scares others by saying "I know everything" ես ամեն ինչ գիտեմ
to extort them. It's a similar situation. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/178928
When I became PM, the Constitutional Court (CC) chief Hrayr Tovmasyan offered me help
on daily basis by telling me about all the loopholes he knows in the Constitution, because "he wrote it", and that together we can do a lot of things. I rebuked him. I have no desire to cooperate with the corrupt regime.
Today the CC doesn't meet the Constitution. Constitution says CC's chief must be elected by CC members, but the current chief was elected by Parliament. And then there is the ongoing investigation about him being appointed with violations of law. The former regime has occupied the CC. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/178935
CC chief Hrayr Tovmasyan: PM is lying. We never met on such occasion and never spoke anything like that. He should provide proof or he'll get sued for defamation "for his lies". https://factor.am/216821.html
Pashinyan: I'll provide evidence when I get back to Yerevan. But don't accuse me of dealing a disproportionate blow. I didn't want to, but you tied my hands. https://factor.am/216838.html
PM's conference continues:
There is a hybrid war by the former regime. They use media outlets to smear politicians, their families (refers to himself), with the help of criminal subculture members, judicial members.
I used to think the entire court system was corrupt, but thankfully I was wrong. It's only certain circles. Certain members of the CC occupied CC and pressure fellow members to collude with them. 80% of CC members refused to be part of this scheme. Don't ask for names. Certain foreign officials had also colluded and were sponsored by the regime to aid them remotely. Time will come and we'll discuss this. Law enforcement is investigating. Those who broke the law will face justice.
Former regime's only hope today is to use the Artsakh Republic to attack us by saying our policies are harming it. In reality, we inherited bad negotiation papers from Serj, which includes giving many regions to Azerbaijan, resettling Azeris, etc. Let the Artsakh presidential candidates (elections in a few months) say what they think about this. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/178929
Artsakh candidate Arayik Harutyunyan responded to PM: I do not support Serj's papers. All existing regions must stay and prosper. I agree with you that Artsakh should join the negotiating table. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/178949
Artsakh candidate Masis Mailyan responds to PM: I don't support the inherited papers you mentioned. I was vocally against it at the time. We need new negotiations. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/178952
Artsakh candidate Ashot Ghulyan responded to PM: we want independence and unification with Armenia. Existing lands are needed for security. We need to discuss the lands occupied by Azeris, and Artsakh's participation in negotiations. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/178942
Pashinyan's Q&A session continues:
Amulsar mining issue isn't being resolved because of the ongoing road blockade by activists. I urge them to open it because the blockade is counter-intuitive and harms Armenia. Amulsar will probably initiate an arbitration lawsuit. From an economic standpoint, I'd rather see the mine operate because we'd have higher economic growth, jobs. But I'll be against it if it'll be at the cost of irrecoverable natural harm or population's health. To find out about the possible environmental impact the roads need to open so the exams can be conducted. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/178943
We need to make villages more colorful. Paint the buildings, fences, make them more appealing. It'll improve daily life. We're fighting against the criminal subculture, the black socks, the black shoes, the black pants, the black top, the black face (cough) because it's a symbol of hopelessness. I spend 15 minutes talking about the poor conditions of toilets in Armenia for a reason. It's a cultural thing. We need to improve it. https://youtu.be/StpBaQA6ysQ
When I was in Kosh prison in 2010, masked people attacked me. When I became PM I was thinking, should I address that? Then I felt ashamed that people would say I'm using my power for personal gain. Recently someone wrote a letter saying he knows who the masked men were. He testified and gave names. I had to go to the investigative office for this case. That's when I took the selfie. I took it to show other officials that if the PM can go there personally, then any official can and should, if necessary. The old practice of "tell the investigator to come to my office instead" needs to end. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/178935
Q: Why are you holding this press conference in remote Kapan without helping journalists with transportation money?
A: Because you keep accusing us of misusing taxpayer money, so from now on we'll spend it better. Some outlets get plenty of money from the former corrupt regime, let them spend 5k to get here.
Q: Let's organize the next Q&A on another planet?
A (jokes): hopefully Armenia will develop under my administration so much that we'll go hold the session on another planet. From now on, all sessions will be held in provinces. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/178938
(Context: healthcare ministry is shutting down some birth clinics because they don't serve enough patients to keep doctors' experience in-check, don't have the necessary specialists in the area to treat kids during and after birth, etc.)
Q: Why is the Qajaran birth clinic shutting down? They have the equipment.
A: Qajaran's pregnant women will need to be transported 25km (for free) to Kapan for birth. Some women already voluntarily do this in many areas to ensure quality birth. In Yerevan, many women travel 25km to visit a clinic on the other part of the city just to give birth safely.
There is also a financial waste here. Instead of having 1 office with 1 director, 1 accountant and 1 aide, we have 3 of the same. Shouldn't we spend the resources to improve the popular clinics to make them safer?
If they have a birth issue in Achalurj clinic they have to call an expensive helicopter because they don't have a surgery room. Let's not risk people's lives.
When I saw the protests by clinic employees, they were wearing work clothing and shoes on the streets. Then they were going to return to work and enter the birth room with that contaminated clothing.
Question from Iravunk outlet: there are supporters of Soros in your administration.
A: The Open Society NGO has operated for decades, including during times when your outlet's founder was part of the regime. Why didn't they shut it down if it was a bad thing? Everyone who brings up Soros today is a member of the former regime. Right now you're admitting that you're state traitors for your 25-year inaction.
We'll start with you, and the rest of HHK. Stand up and explain yourselves. Why wasn't the office closed? Let's investigate how many of the former regime members got a grant from Soros and other international NGOs. You have no holiness. Everything is measured in money for you. But you gave international NGOs a pass so they won't be too harsh on your illegal activities. You're the biggest "Sorosites".
The beef between us and ARF isn't that strong. There are some circles within ARF that represent the former regime and they have an issue with the Education Ministry. But overall, ARF and we have the same goals for Armenia. But ARF has to make changes in its Armenia-based leadership first. I have friendly feelings towards the diasporan ARF. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/178948
The education system must be reformed from A to Z. For years it was corrupt. Kids were taught that you can get grades by giving chocolate gifts to teachers.
Schools are supposed to teach the Armenian language to kids, not necessarily the universities. If we want to train an engineer at a university, we have to teach them engineering. The goal is to make sure the graduate can get a job with the diploma. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/178951
Q: You recently said the state apparatus is resisting the revolution. Any examples?
A: Since the day I appointed Tatevik Revazyan as Civil Aviation chief, she received all kinds of degrading abuse. 90% of it was coordinated by "insiders" from the system. They write all sorts of trash about her. "She is humiliating Armenia internationally". "She meets Ryanair's security guard instead of an executive".
You see all the positive improvements by the Aviation. They tried to prevent it in any way possible. I fired some of them. Tatevik has a big heart. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/178947
Tag: PashinyanQ&A PashinyanMedia PashinyanFormerRegime
Civil Aviation safety violation bust. Safety ignored since 2016.
SOC recently conducted audits in the Civil Aviation Committee (hereby Committee) and found violations. The info was sent to prosecutors. The latter decided to press felony charges. Memo says:
In Dec-2018, a firm (99% sure Taron Avia) contacted the EU's air traffic safety agency EASA to get a flight permit. EASA audited both the firm and the Committee and found 15 violations, 5 of which were serious.
The audit results were sent to Committee in July-2019, but the employees broke the protocols and didn't enter the info in the legal "Mulberry" database. They reported to Committee chief Tatevik Revazyan that nothing serious was found.
Moreover, evidence was found that beginning in 2016, Committee workers covered up safety issues despite being warned by EASA. As a result, the firm illegally operated unsafe jets.
A felony case is launched.
(Basically, Tarion Avia allegedly colluded with Civil Aviation employees to cover up its shortcomings. They are the firm that recently lost the license and had to move to Africa to operate under fewer regulations. Pashinyan mentioned this story during today's press conference while speaking about the system's resistance towards Civil Aviation.)
Update: They found and rescued the Russian mountain hikers who were lost. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/178946
Azeri govt denied the entry of a Ukrainian official Meri Hakobyan to an unironically named Eastern Partnership summit held in Baku, because of her Armenian ethnicity. Ukraine asked the EU to intervene and condemn it, writes the Ukrainian media. http://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/277306/ https://www.pravda.com.ua/rus/news/2020/01/24/7238346/
Investigative Committee denied rumors circulated by Joghovurd outlet alleging that the investigators suspected that the former NSS chief Kutoyan (suicide a few days ago) had financial problems and that the investigators allegedly contacted the UK embassy for more info. "We urge Joghovurd not to spread unconfirmed rumors." https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/178962
Update: Hetq outlet has more info about who manages lands in Oghakadzev Park, when, for how much. In today's news, it's the 3rd section of the park. This is not a necessary report about corruption, but sometimes it is.
The area was leased to 3 firms: Kotdeazur (biggest, >1 hectare), Green Flora, Orient Stone.
Kotdeazur is owned by businessman Nikolai Khachaturov. It was founded 3 months before it signed the lease. The firm signed a 25-year lease with Yerevan in Oct-2002. They pay only $120/mo for the huge land. Not only it's very little, but it's less than what others pay for smaller lands. 111x less than what another HHK official pays for his.
Initially, it was agreed that this amount would be paid until Kotdeazur finishes its construction work. They were supposed to re-negotiate the amount, but they didn't.
Kotdeazur then made sub-contracts with various businesses to lease the area to them.
Nikolai Khachaturov owned other businesses too, in real estate and construction material field. His Delta-Fragment firm does business with Hrazdan cement factory.
The second part of the park is leased by Orient Stone. The lease was signed on Sep-2002 for 25 years, for food business creation. They pay only $62/mo for 9000m2 land.
In 2005 they created the cafe "Modern", which caused protests. It was suspended for a while but resumed by Yerevan later.
Orient Stone is owned by Robert Yeghiazaryan, but in the past, some of it was owned by Nikolai Khachaturov, the aforementioned owner of the 1st section of the park.
In 2013 Yerevan wanted to confiscate Orient's properties for unpaid fees, but they made an agreement. In 2016 Yerevan redrew the land borders and Orient found itself having to pay 34mln to city. City ended up raising Orient's monthly fee from $62 to $783 so it'll cover the past debt. In Jun-2018 Yerevan city agreed to extend the lease until 2040.
The 3rd and final firm is Green Flora. They signed the lease in 2000. The current lease began in 2016 and it's valid until 2050. They pay $717 for a 1200m2 area.
Founded in 1994, the firm is owned by Hakob Burnuchyan and his family.
Green Flora owns another land nearby, on top of which HHK MP Artak Sargsyan built the famous SAS supermarket.
Why is there such a big discrepancy between fees paid by various firms? Because the city calculates how much they pay based on what the area will be used for. If it'll contain green zones the firm pays less. Wanting to build cafes would raise the fee. Some firms chose to lie about building mostly green areas so they would pay less but later built cafes on it.
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/eu0nap/jan252020_news_pms_press_conference_pashinyan/
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