2020 June 19

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Anti-Corruption Daily

Jun/19/2020 News: (1) Russia responds to "cigarette smuggling". Mishik's hoax. (2) Govt rejects Gazprom's price-hike for public (3) Parliament vs Un-Constitutional Court (4) Ex-police chiefs charged (5) Serj's nephew facing 7yrs (6) Robik's dilemma (7) Gago's sectarian sheep (8) Fewer refugees (9)..
by ar_david_hh


Russia finally responds to cigarette smuggling story

Businessmen linked to former officials earlier transported cigarettes through Russia, but it was allegedly "confiscated as contraband". Serj's son-in-law Mikael Minasyan, without evidence, blamed the Pashinyan family for organizing the "smuggling".

--

Armenian authorities used INTERPOL to petition Russia to give details. The report says:

40 tons of cigarettes made by Armenian Tobacco Company were sent to Simferopol, Crimea with a jet co-owned by Russian govt.

The Armenian company did the paperwork with Armenian IRS before sending it. No Armenian or EAEU laws were broken regarding the labeling on the cigarette boxes meant for Afghanistan.

In Crimea, the load was supposed to be given to VOLAX PROMOTION intermediary firm, which would then fly the cargo to Kazakhstan before driving to Afghanistan. This isn't the first time Armenian seller and intermediary VOLAX made such a distribution agreement; $500k was traded last year.

--

Before reaching Crimea, the jet was stopped in Krasnodar (southern Russia) for a routine inspection.

During the inspection, the Russian authorities became concerned that it could be contraband. One reason is that cigarette prices were below the market value.

Examination revealed that the cigarettes were below the market value because Armenian law waivers excise tax for exporters; if those cigarettes were sold within Armenia they would cost a lot more.

Electronic communication between the seller and intermediary reveals that the subsequent deal was between two Russian entities and that the Armenian side was "out" of it after a certain point. (meaning whatever happened next is not Armenian seller's problem)

Messages also revealed that the cargo was transported to Krasnodar's temporary storage, and not confiscated as contraband from the hands of the Armenian seller, as presented earlier.

Armenian Tobacco Company has long denied any felony case involving them.

End of report.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190670

https://youtu.be/FoOw6fHM3nM

Tags: #Mishik #CigaretteStory #CigaretteSmuggling

Govt rejects Gazprom's petition to hike gas prices for "regular" users

Gazprom-Armenia wanted to +30% prices for regular users "to balance its finances and secure future infrastructure investments." Utility commission objected, saying the price hike should be smaller, and not for ordinary users.

Today they decided that the prices will rise from $212 to $224 for agricultural, dairy, alcohol producers. Home users with high monthly consumption will pay $255 vs $242.

Previous avg: $255, proposed avg: $283, new avg: $266.

--

Gazprom-Armenia "understands" the logic behind Utility's pricing, but says they were hoping for at least $275. They'll lay-off 1,000 workers and slash salaries.

NGOs were present to ensure transparency. An NGO chief accused Gazprom-Armenia director of earning an obscenely high salary. The latter denied, saying 2mln/mo is normal for the position.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190615 , https://youtu.be/hVFDoPYGD4A , https://youtu.be/IYhniYImR0A , https://youtu.be/qQuQJb88E6E

Cleanup on isle CC / Parliament vs Judges

The referendum for firing "Constitutional Court judges with unconstitutional life-terms" won't happen due to the pandemic. Instead, 50 MPs from the ruling QP party drafted bills to do it through Parliament.

It'll affect CC judges serving >12 years, because QP argues that the new 2015 Constitution envisions shorter terms for new judges, yet the old judges are allowed to reign lifetime, which is against the spirit of the Constitution. PACE earlier called the complaint "valid".

If approved, the bill will fire 3 out of 9 judges. The most controversial judge HHK MP Hrayr Tovmasyan will stay, but not as CC president unless he's re-elected by fellow judges.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190645

Tags: #ConstitutionalCourt #CC

ex police chiefs charged with new embezzlement & ranking abuse

Ex-Police Chief Vladimir Gasparyan and ex-Police Forces Chief Levon Yeranosyan are both already going through separate felony investigations.

Now they're facing additional AMD 114mln embezzlement charges.

--

SIS report says: Vladimir Gasparyan dispatched 3 of his cops, who were on govt payroll, to act as president Serj's and Serj's brother's personal chauffeur/bodyguards. 54mln in damages to the state.

Also, Gasparyan illegally gave away two properties to colleagues.

He illegally gave another property to a man who provided video-producing services to his daughter.

In 2015 his daughter was appointed as a high ranking official but never went to work. He paid her 8.8mln in salaries nonetheless.

He abused the ranking system to benefit his daughter and wife.

--

As for Levon Yeranosyan, he caused 7.9mln in damages by hiring an employee who was, in reality, serving as a personal chauffeur for Yeranosyan's colleague. Salaries were embezzled.

His colleague, Vardan Tunyan, caused 6mln in similar damages through salary and transport fuel theft.

4 ex-officials are charged with felonies. 64mln out of 114mln has been recovered.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190608

Serj's nephew is facing 7 years if convicted

Hayk Sargsyan's trial began after the revolution. He's suspected of getting high and shooting a friend over a dispute 11 years ago, then using his father's connections to pressure another friend to accept the guilt.

Prosecutors are seeking a 7-year term for attempted murder and illegal weapons.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190651

Gagik Tsarukyan's detention trial

Read yesterday's news for context.

The judge, who'll decide Gagik Tsarukyan's (Dodi Gago) pre-trial status, has refused Tsarukyan's petition to recuse himself. The trial continues on Monday.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190591

BHK MP about her alleged "sheep and sectarians" voter buying comment

While talking about BHK leader Tsarukyan's alleged voter fraud, Prosecutors claimed BHK MP Naira Zohrabyan admitted during a private conversation that BHK has no support without paying a bribe and that people are "sheep and sectarians".

The BHK MP says maybe she did have a similar conversation but she said something different, like "what kind of public is this that doesn't want to vote without a bribe".

She says the conversation was with a "colleague from Pashinyan family's ArmTimes media outlet".

She also speculates that NSS spied on her. When reminded that NSS chief was Arthur Vanetsyan at the time, and Vanetsyan is now pro-BHK, the MP said she doesn't have a problem with that.

https://factor.am/262020.html

Tsarukyan's friends in Russia respond

BHK's sister-party United Russia chose a balanced tone while expressing their concernTM over the "developments", and reminded Armenian colleagues "that everything must be done legally in Democratic countries" and "hopefully the conflict will be resolved."

BHK met the Russian ambassador yesterday. QP met today. Some analysts believe Russia is using BHK as its "influencer" in Armenia.

https://er.ru/news/193695/

http://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/282163/

Tsarukyan's buddies & Arinj mayor also face charges

For years, Tsarukyan was allowed to do whatever he wanted in Kotayk province. Recently Arinj mayor was charged with illegally helping Tsarukyan's NYU firm to embezzle lands.

Investigators say they have more charges: the mayor of Arinj and people linked with Tsarukyan's business empire did illegal things to harm others. Techno Kaza company architect, a govt official, and Tsarukyan's Multi Group's deputy director are suspects.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190616

Tag: #GagikTsarukyan #DodiGago

Robik Kocharyan is facing a big dilemma...

... his relatives will have to post AMD 2bln bail. It's a big money, so they're scrambling to decide how to then prove that they got that kind of money legally, believes QP MP Hovakimyan.

Robik's spokesman complained about the unusually high bail amount. His lawyer doesn't know how much of it is collected so far.

Kocharyan family says they'll seek the help of "businessmen and donors".

1 LIAYK = 1 FREE HUG FOR չունեվոր ROBIK.

https://factor.am/261709.html , https://youtu.be/030O5APJAW8 , https://youtu.be/qmlEMGSo070 , https://factor.am/261969.html , http://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/282166/

internet wars continue...

In February, popular Russian blogger Ilya Varlamov visited Yerevan to shoot a video about architecture. His Armenian guide spoke about Yerevan's multi-ethnic history and how in some areas there were no Armenians, only ethnic Iranians.

An Azeri YouTuber, using SIMP.exe 64-bit edition software, edited the guide's words to claim "Armenians admit Yerevan was not Armenian but Azeri", says NSS.

https://youtu.be/XQFm9OfK4wM

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190598

EU diplomatic battles

Armenian delegation says they lobbied to amend a EuroNest document to make it more pro-Armenian by securing the "self-determination" clause related to Artsakh, to remove anti-Armenian parts lobbied by Azerbaijan.

--

As for a recent European Parliament rapport drafted by 3 pro-Azeri politicians, it's being criticized by speaker Ararat Mirzoyan, who sent a complaint letter to European Parliament chief.

Mirzoyan also noted that a co-rapporteur Traian Basescu, known for cozy ties with Aliyev regime, has anti-Armenian views towards the Armenian diaspora in Romania. "It raises concerns about his partiality."

EuroNest http://www.epgencms.europarl.europa.eu/cmsdata/upload/28b13e3f-0208-47cd-a03d-f86e4066d50a/Euronest_PA_Bureau_message_to_the_EaP_Leaders_VTC_in_2020.pdf

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190609

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190654

Fewer Armenians seek refuge in EU

It's about first-time applicants:

-37% in 2020Q1 vs 2019Q1.

-26% in January, -40% February, -47% March.

--

This could help Armenia during the negotiations for a visa-free system with the EU.

https://factor.am/261983.html

update: Khosrov forest fire

It was a lightning strike.

Yesterday we learned that helicopters and drones were dispatched to help firefighters isolate a fire in Armenia's precious Khosrov forests. 60 fire units and dozens of volunteers went to the remote area.

Nature Ministry found signs of a lightning strike which led to the 4.5ha fire. It's extinguished.

Video post-fire: https://youtu.be/uJNAarbrp-M

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190604

update: referee vs soccer coach

On Jun/15/2020 we learned about a "sunflower seed" incident between a soccer coach and the game's referee, which allegedly led to the referee extinguishing a cigarette on coach's face.

Today Soccer Federation investigated and penalized the coach for cursing and disrupting the game. The referee will be investigated by another body.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190629

COVID stats

+459 infected. +706 healed. +19 deaths (9 of whom from "other" causes)

10462 active. 8266 healed. 319 deaths. 91943 tested.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190605

No tanks and guns for you

Pashinyan joined Ilham Aliyev and refused to visit Moscow for next week's victory parade (delayed since May), citing COVID situation. 75 Armenian soldiers will march led by Defense Minister Tonoyan.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190648

COVID donations arrive

11 Lithuanian doctors and 30k test kits, 60k accessories, 20k air filters arrived today.

--

Poland sent 30k masks, sanitizers, and PPE to Armenia, and also Georgia.

--

Serbia sent another jet with thousands of items, after holding talks with President Sarkissian.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190600 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190620 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190656

2 critical patients defeat COVID

Mother and son, with numerous health problems, were in a critical state; 65% oxygen level. Today they got discharged.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190603

Alternative to contract tracing apps?

Healthcare Minister published a map with the approximate locations (~50meters) where COVID residents are kept self-isolated in their homes.

It's meant to alert others and hopefully reduce unprotected contacts in backyards, which the govt says is the main source of infections. (gazebo gatherings, coffee with neighbors, etc.)

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190594 , details https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/190658


Link to original report and comments: https://old.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/hc73un/jun192020_news_1_russia_responds_to_cigarette/

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. Helpful overview of Armenia's media ownership and leanings.


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