2020 May 12

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Anti-Corruption Daily

May/12/2020 News: (1) Ejmiatsin mayor accuses "mafiosi" of fabricating stories after raids (2) Cigarettes story (3) Biggest Freedom House jump (4) Parliament drama (5) Robert Kocharyan (6) Judges approve 91% of arrest warrants (7) Remittances from abroad (8) Central Bank protest (9) More inside...
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.


Ejmiatsin mayor says Don Pipo launched a campaign against her

Context: Ejmiatsin, formerly led by disgraced general Manvel Tushonka Grigoryan, was one of the most corrupt cities. At some point "Mafia boss" Don Pipo kidnapped several men who tried to assassinate him. Manvel and Pipo don't like each other. After the revolution and several felony cases, Manvel's son resigned as mayor. Diana Gasparyan was elected as mayor.

--

Yesterday a man posted a video of a cable, claiming the Mayor is stealing electricity from a hospital with the help of the hospital director, who is the Mayor's mother. The activist accused the mayor of having ties with Manvel Grigoryan.

--

Mayor responded claiming Don Pipo is using his minions to launch a media defamation campaign against her because she won't cave to Pipo's demands.

--

Mayor Gasparyan said:

Pipo owns a land registered under his family name. He did illegal construction on it. In 2019 the city penalized him. He accepted the guilt and paid a 200,000 fine.

Days earlier a city official went to check the land again and found that Pipo was still building the illegal building. A new case was launched. Pipo wants us to close the eye on it so he won't have to pay a 36mln fee to use the law to legalize the structure.

Because of this, Pipo launched a negative media campaign against me, my family, and the Ejmiatsin council.

--

He is even building an illegal structure in front of the Ejmiatsin cathedral. The Catholicos contacted the city to express concerns. Pipo thinks he's the boss around here. If Pipo built 10 illegal structures, we would penalize all 10.

--

Pipo's activists also accuse me of being Manvel's puppet. That's ridiculous. I have no choice but to work with a city council appointed under HHK; I have no right to dismiss it. People elected the council which is doing its job. So what that they were elected under HHK? I also didn't instruct a road construction contract to be given to a city councilman linked to Manvel.

After unsuccessfully trying to dig dirt on me for 2 years, Pipo's activists had to fabricate a story about me stealing electricity from a hospital. I'll sue for defamation.

Mayor: https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187689

Electricity video: https://youtu.be/LehWW7g_kCs

Serj's son-in-law circulates the debunked story about Pashinyan family smuggling cigarettes

HHK PM Karen Karapetyan's Norfolk business associates wanted to ship 40 tons of cigarettes to Afghanistan. A jet flew from Moscow to Yerevan, picked up the cargo, flew to Krasnodar (southern Russia). From there, some sources say it was supposed to fly to Tajikistan then driven to Afghanistan. Others say it was suppose to be taken Kazakhstan-Uzbekistan-Tajikistan-Afghanistan via land.

Before the cargo could reach Tajikistan, Russians confiscated it in Krasnodar.

Simultaneously, the former regime's media outlets began circulating a rumor that Pashinyan's nephew MP organized the shipping. (later fact-checkers found the real senders)

--

Serj's fugitive son-in-law Minasyan stitched together theory and released a video, in which he tries to prove the cargo was contraband because it wouldn't make sense to send 40tons from Krasnodar to Afghanistan via land via Iran. Evidence shows the shipping route was different.

Minasyan then ties Pashinyan's cleanup of the law enforcement system to this incident. "He is getting rid of disloyal NSS agents who exposed the smuggling", claimed Minasyan, who is charged with money laundering and is hiding somewhere.

The airline company denied using its jet for smuggling. The Armenian IRS denied Roboserj rumors about covering up a cigarette smuggling, saying the shippers had the documents required by Armenian law. The fate of the cigarettes are unknown and it's unclear whether it had all the necessary documents required by Russia. What is known, however, is the names of the businessmen who sent it.

The businessmen claim their business rivals are trying to sabotage them.

https://fip.am/11327

https://armeniasputnik.am/armenia/20200430/22902775/hayastani-tsxaxoti-tandzr-tsuxy-um-e-patkanum-rd-hasats-40-tonna-maqsaneng-sigarety.html

https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/gbns7c/may12020_friday_news_manvel_needs_the_tushonka/?

Minasyan's full story: https://youtu.be/JyRpsaCxBqc

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/186886

Freedom House

The US embassy said: Armenia scored the biggest 2-year democracy gain in Freedom House Nations in Transit's entire record.

https://www.facebook.com/usembarmenia/posts/10158367649357673?__tn__=-R

update on the hospital attack

Earlier 2 men were killed in Gavar after a dispute. Several cars participated in a drive-by style shooting. This led to 500 relatives of murdered men attacking patients in a hospital in a mistaken identity.

23 are charged as part of the original murder incident. 4 arrested.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/187742

update: a suspect is found and arrested...

...after assaulting March 1st victims' lawyer Seda Safaryan's family members. The suspect is charged with hooliganism. The lawyer believes the attack could be orchestrated as a threat related to her work.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187734

Robert Kocharyan underwent surgery

He is doing fine. This is the 2nd surgery since late-2019. Tomorrow's trial will decide whether he remains in jail pre-trial.

His lawyers have submitted 14 complaints to European Court for Human Rights about his detention.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187701 , https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187717

update: the bolola between QP Sasun and LHK Edmon

Context: QP accused LHK of being crooked for "endangering the financial institutes by misleading the public about the dangers of a recent anti-corruption bill". LHK told QP not to call them "crooked". QP told LHK "listen, uncle". LHK got upset and approached QP. QP slapped LHK.

The next day, LHK Edmon's brother allegedly cursed QP Sasun's mother. Sasun demanded an apology "or it won't end well". Edmon's brother refused to apologize and called the police to "report threats by Sasun".

--

Additionally, LHK Edmon rejected QP's offer for 3 QP and 3 LHK MPs to resign over the fight. "We weren't the ones that hit others," said LHK Edmon.

QP Lilith urged LHK to "draw conclusions" from the incident and "return to a normal working routine".

LHK Edmon accused QP Sasun of owning illegal properties in Hrazdan, and doing certain favors during Kocharyan's 2003 election.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187688 , https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187719 , https://youtu.be/ZoPJEJ6Ls3o , https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187746

Parliament approves amendments to the referendum law

Parliament voted 97-0 to approve a QP bill that will make it easier for people to gather signatures and send a petition to Parliament to organize a referendum. The required signatures are reduced from 50k to 25k. The allowed timeframe to gather signatures is extended.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187699 , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1014888.html

too damn high

Human Rights Ombudsman to Parliament: in 2019 judges approved 91% of arrest petitions. That's worrisome. Parliament should implement the practice of house arrest. The ongoing legal changes could increase arrests. You should change the judges' mentality, and use arrest as last resort.

2017: 2400 total petitions for arrest

2018: 1880

2019: 1980

https://www.lragir.am/2020/05/12/545580/

COVID stats

+146 (back to normal after a big reduction yesterday). Active 2042. All-time 3500. Dead 47.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187703

remittances down 10%

In Q1, Armenians working abroad sent 10% less money to their families in Armenia. Total $354mln.

Half of the remittances came from Russia. It's -16% due to the worsening Russian economy and currency (COVID and oil), and many Armenians being unable to visit Russia for work due to COVID.

Remittances from other countries +3.5%.

Fewer remittances contributed to a 10% reduction in internal Armenian trade. Compared to 2014, it's down by $0.5bln. That's how much the public and economy "lost".

--

Money leaving Armenia -7.1% (total $266mln). Residents sent -28% to Russia with their banks.

One reason the outflow is down is that Armenians bought fewer cars compared to 2019. Last year was the deadline to import cars at favorable border tax, so everyone rushed to buy and transfer money outside.

https://hetq.am/hy/article/117003

more will evacuate out of Turkey

Govt will organize Turkey-Georgia-Armenia bus rides for 191 Armenians. There are complaints about the limitation to bring only 1 luggage and 1 carry-on to the bus. Some plan to cross the border with George on foot, instead.

Earlier Turkish authorities helped to organize a transfer of a few dozen Armenians. Armenians living in Turkey hope COVID will end so they can keep their jobs and normal lives.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187637

Բանը հասավ կոնգրեսին

ԱՄՆ կոնգրեսի Հելսինկյան հանձնաժողովը քննադատեց Իլհամ Ալիևին բոլոլավիրուսը քաղաքական հակառակորդների դեմ ճնշման գործիք օգտագործելու համար։

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1015036.html

Road police will go undercover...

...and use unmarked vehicles to catch traffic violators.

https://youtu.be/X0lyZBbDNII

Protests outside the Central Bank

They were demanding CB to require loan agencies to reduce interest rates. "CB should serve the common folk."

CB condemned "threats against CB staff, refusal by protesters to send a representative for talks, and false information circulated by the protesters."

The police briefly detained 2 protesters.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187730 , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1015064.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1015098.html

EU will ease the visa regime with Armenia if...

... if it meets certain requirements. The negotiations will begin soon if COVID allows.

Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Belarus need a visa to enter the EU, while Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine do not.

https://factor.am/249277.html , https://www.swissinfo.ch/rus/ес-начнет-переговоры-о-безвизовом-режиме-с-восточным-партнерством-при-выполнении-определенных-условий/45753080

Garbage collection in Armenia

Govt is working on garbage sorting and collection reforms.

Garbage collection fees cover only 50% of the cost to collect garbage. Total 5bln spent in Yerevan, from which 1.5bln came from residents and 1.3bln from businesses.

"Eventually the fees could increase to establish an efficient collection across Armenia while taking into account the low-income residents."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1015003.html

Ryanair will resume its fights to Armenia on July 2nd

https://www.lragir.am/2020/05/12/545620/

oof

6 more Yerevan streets have push-to-walk buttons for safer pedestrian crossing.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/187729

animal rescue

Several fox cubs fell into an oil tanker in Yerevan. The residents heard their cries. Emergency Ministry pulled them out.

Video: https://youtu.be/MMkEp__gZnM

Film Saghsara

Right before COVID emergency, "Saghsara" research-musical team went to Gegharquniq to record a film. The crew returned and decided to quarantine everyone in the same place so they could work together to finish the production.

It's about village life. Lots of nature and music.

https://youtu.be/96-FAJNj3Tk

https://hetq.am/hy/article/117021


Link to original report and comments: https://old.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/giitpc/may122020_news_1_ejmiatsin_mayor_accuses_mafiosi/


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