2020 January 3
Anti-Corruption & News Summary - Jan/3/2020 :: Stay informed about current events in Armenian Politics, Economy, Law Enforcement Busts, Major Developments, 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.
Video TLDR of 2019 political and economic changes
Madlads bustin Level 1 crooks on New Year's eve
NSS busted a criminal ring involving bankers and a currency exchange business. They colluded to exchange 36bln worth money at a "wrong" rate which resulted in 12mln damages, says NSS. A felony case is launched.
One last fake news before 2019 ends
A few months ago the govt increased soldiers' salaries.
As a result, soldiers finished 2019 with significantly higher earnings due to the avg 10% wage increase, despite a reduction in one-time bonus payments.
The avg soldier saw a 101k increase vs 2018.
In 2020 they'll get 216k more than in 2018.
Pashinhyan criticized "certain circles" for misinforming the public by claiming that soldiers' earnings were reduced.
2019 almost over
Kocharyan's friends and family gathered outside of jail to celebrate 2020:
Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian spoke about the 2010s decade and his work. He posted a photo of himself with Mt. Ararat on the background:
Pashinyan: I walked half an hour on Year Year's eve and 90% of restaurants and cafes were diasporans and foreign tourists. "You invited, so we came", they said.
The last spice of 2019
Opera orchestra invites clueless guests to act as an orchestra conductor. Education Minister Araiyik Harutyunyan is today's maestro:
(5:21 - witness what happens when you pirate the "Sabre Dance" song off of a DVD then try to play it on $3 Chinese earphones)
President Sarkissian's message and photos:
Parliament speaker Mirzoyan's message: https://youtu.be/fcH1X09DpT4
Artsakh President Bako Sahakyan's message: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1000575.html
Former Preisdent Serj's message: https://news.am/arm/news/552640.html
Garegin B Catholicos of All Armenians has a message: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1000573.html
1st Lady's Hakobyan's message (and photos): https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/177401
Army's message: https://news.am/arm/news/552620.html
Prime Minister Pashinyan's New Year's message: https://youtu.be/eeWxVr-MxQ8?t=333
18:05 Final part, Pashinyan gets extra crazy, fireworks, dhol & zurna, a concert by Goran Bregović:
Photos from Republic Square celebrations
Photos of cool Christmas Trees in Yerevan: https://a1plus.am/hy/article/356809
Soldiers celebrating: https://youtu.be/bKMYW18DoVE?t=2
Soldiers dancing: https://youtu.be/kgc8U1sSJaQ?t=3
Soldiers doing Armenian berdapar dance: https://youtu.be/wRTxrAOy-nk?t=26
2020 begins with your favorite Roboserj news.
Pashinyan leaves the crowd in Public Square high and dry and visits a restaurant to celebrate 2020.
Is it just me, or was Christmas a lot whiter in the 1960s?
Video compilation by CivilNet: https://youtu.be/_tTeRr6x3q0
Russia's GazProm will keep the gas prices the same for Armenia in 2020.
It sells gas to its subsidiary company GazProm-Armenia for $165 at the border, which then sells it to consumers for $290, per 1,000 m3.
The 2020 gas negotiations happened throughout most of 2019. The main goal was to prevent another price hike that Armenia saw for 2019 when the price went from $150 to $165.
Foreign Affairs & Neighborhood
President Donald Trump signed an order approving the EastMed gas pipeline that will connect Israeli shores to Europe. The move is supported by Greece, Malta, Israel, and will deliver gas to EU nations.
Although Italy's PM opposed the pipeline earlier in 2019, an Italian govt agency sent a different message on Tuesday.
EastMed is opposed by Turkey because the pipeline will bypass Turkey and reduce its influence in the region.
It will also reduce Azerbaijan's "influence" over Europe because it will compete against the Azeri-Turkish TAP pipeline.
How much gas do regional players export to the EU?
EastMed 10bcm projected for now
Azerbaijan 10bcm currently (projected 20)
Soleimani drone strike
At the request of President Trump, a US drone airstrike killed the most senior Iranian general Qassim Soleimani, the only Iranian military man who received the Order of the Zulfiqar.
He was the mastermind of Iran's recent expansionism into the Middle East and was responsible for arming terrorist organizations, including Hezbollah. He was viewed as being more powerful than the president of Iran in foreign affairs.
Iran-backed militias recently killed an American soldier, and a group of Soleimani-backed militiamen stormed the US embassy in Iraq.
In response, the US conducted a drone airstrike on Baghdad International Airport, killing Soleimani and several other figures connected with Iran's military operations in Iraq, immediately after their jet landed at the airport. A high ranking Iran-backed Iraqi commando was also killed.
"The game has changed", said the US administration, vowing to conduct more retaliatory attacks if necessary. They described it as retaliation and a preventative measure.
Why was Soleimani in Iraq?
He has been frequently visiting Iraq to cooperate with Iran-backed Iraqi govt to help suppress the ongoing public protests and to cooperate with military operations in Syria. Iranian militias were recently blamed for the murder of hundreds of Iraqi protesters.
Soleimani had a rocky relationship with the US administrations.
Earlier he got into a Twitter spat with Trump, telling him "If you begin the war, we will end the war."
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described Soleimani as a "terrorist" whose forces "killed 603 Americans".
Trump administration designated the IRGC group led by Soleimani as a "terrorist organization" at the time.
Soleimani's group was also sanctioned by Obama in 2011 for a failed attempt to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington D.C. The US authorities caught the Iranian would-be assassins. They received lengthy sentences.
In 2007, the UN Security Council sanctioned Soleimani and other Iranian militias.
After the airstrike, Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei promised "severe revenge". Russia called it a "reckless" move. The UK criticized Soleimani's past activities and urged a de-escalation. Armenian MFA urged a de-escalation and peace in the region. Trump tweeted Murican_Flag.jpeg
Many Iranians mourned his death. Public prayers were held. Flags will be down for 3 days.
Meanwhile, many Iraqis, who oppose Iran's influence in their country, went on the streets to celebrate his death while waving giant Iraqi flags.
Low-cost airline Ryanair will add more routes. Yerevan-Thessaloniki ($33 1-way) and Gyumri-Athens ($20). Starting May.
Another route will connect Gyumri to southern German Memmingem city.
Ryanair isn't the only airline to launch flights to and from Armenia recently. Air Baltic, Wizz Air, and Transavia will take advantage of the new law that reduced the taxes.
Netherlands (that's right folks, beginning Jan 1, 2020, it's officially no longer Holland) has designated Armenia as a safe country for travel. The rating is based on the analysis by their security and intel agencies.
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/ejkj0l/anticorruption_news_summary_jan32020_stay/
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