2020 May 18

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Anti-Corruption Daily

May/18/2020 News: (1) Armenia will produce buses (2) ex-SOC chief's court trial (3) Pashinyan's Q&A with media: Courts, Cigarette smuggling, $105mln recovered, Amulsar, WW2 & Nazis (4) Cassations Court boost anti-money laundering (5) "Pashinyan lied to you all" (6) USAID++ (7) PCs for kids (8) ...
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.


ex-SOC chief Sanasaryan's trial / Confessions & Accusations / Allegations against ex-NSS chief

Context: Pashinyan-appointed ex-SOC chief David Sanasaryan was charged with colluding with a co-worker to help the latter's medical company win a contract. Sanasaryan says he was unaware of the conflict of interest and he only tried to end another medical company's monopoly. Later, investigators would confirm the medical monopoly, but they still believe Sanasaryan abused his powers.

--

The trial resumed today. It was revealed that SOC colleague Samvel Adyan asked NSS to interrogate him on 3 occasions without a lawyer. He wanted to "confess" and explain the defendant Sanasaryan's role. The content of the confession is still secret.

Defendant Sanasaryan criticized the secret (no lawyer) nature of the interrogation, saying the SOC colleague was coached or pressured by NSS to give a false confession against him.

Prosecutor responded, saying colleague Adyan made the same confession later at the presence of his lawyer.

--

How did this all begin?

SOC investigators found that during a medical equipment purchase process, hospital admins presented unnecessary medical requirements so only 1 company could win contracts, thus securing a monopoly. This is what Defendant Sanasaryan says he was fighting against. However, Healthcare Minister Torosyan at the time accused Sanasaryan of placing patients' lives at risk with his audits.

During the trial, defendant Sanasaryan presented a Fed/1/2019 letter between him and Healthcare Minister Torosyan, claiming it proves his innocence:

Minister: What legal rights do your SOC agents have to change the medical equipment contract's technical characteristics? We lost the ability to service dialysis tech. It places our patients' lives at risk. I would stop this had I known earlier. Don't intrude in the medical field. Even I - the Healthcare Minister - can't simply change equipment requirement data.

Defendant Sanasaryan: this field has been monopolized until now. No one could enter and compete. A month ago we sent the dialysis equipment audit paperwork to your Ministry but never got a response. Our modification doesn't discriminate and will ensure competition. We'll send info on 2 companies to prosecutors soon. Monopolies got $1mln through monopolization (and an agreement not to compete against each other). We also found instances of hospital admins accepting unqualified tech. One company won a contract despite providing the same tech for 6mln higher price. What steps has your Ministry taken to end these monopolies?

Minister: it's about patient's life. I don't care about the extra few million spent. [Minister complaints that they lost dialysis equipment contracts that the patients needed urgently]. This new "Zorashen" equipment delivery company is new and unreliable. I don't trust them with high-quality dialysis tech. [Zorashen is the firm that defendant Sanasaryan is accused of sponsoring.]

Sanasaryan: I don't know "Zorashen" company either, but I understand where you're coming from. But there is no proof that editing equipment requirements will place lives at risk. Right now this field is monopolized by two clans: Don Pipo and Lfik Samo. Either way, we should do everything by law.

Minister: Lfik Samo and Don Pipo are clans, but they import the world's best dialysis equipment.

Sanasaryan: but the other manufacturer isn't bad either. It has worldwide adoption.

[The two agree to visit hospitals and discuss in-depth.]

--

Prosecutors used that letter to turn it around against the defendant, saying he knew his staff did medical businesses yet didn't take steps to ensure there is no conflict of interest.

Defendant clarified that in his conversation, when he tried to advocate for an alternative medical company with "worldwide usage adoption, he wasn't referring to Zorashen company in question, but equipment that Zorashen was importing.

--

Sanasaryan was initially charged by ex-NSS chief Arthur Vanetsyan, (who is now accused of being cozy with Serj circles all along).

Sanasaryan says he was charged by Vanetsyan immediately after he launched the medical audit against St. Gregory Illuminator hospital, whose director was Serj's son-in-law Mikael Minasyan's father.

"In February 2019 Vanetsan met [the former regime circles], then as soon as we exposed the hospital's monopolistic activities, Vanetsyan went after me," complained Sanasaryan, speculating that Vanetsyan was defending the fugitive Minasyan's family.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/188173 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/188182 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/188199 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/188206 , https://youtu.be/eSnYWjRvMEg , https://youtu.be/eACFNKKycQg , https://youtu.be/PAJhJpPUVOU

Tag: #DavidSanasaryan #dialysis #Zorashen

Fake news about Pashinyan's grandpa being a Nazi

Pashinyan posted a photo of his Red Army officer grandfather who died in WW2 at the age of 30.

Then some Russia and Azerbaijan-based outlets began circulating rumors that grandpa was a Nazi collaborator because a similarly named man is listed in the archive as a "Nazi collaborator" [common pretense to purge unwanted people] and discharged from Red Army.

Fact-checkers revealed that their full names do not match. The real grandpa was listed as "MIA" and not a "collaborator".

Notable major outlets that published the unconfirmed rumors were gazeta.ru and lenta.ru.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1015580.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/188127 , https://www.facebook.com/nikol.pashinyan/photos/a.1895098537477199/2631214303865615/?type=3&theater , https://tass.ru/mezhdunarodnaya-panorama/8494977

Pashinyan's Q&A with media

On Saturday, PM presented 100 facts about new Armenia, then did a Q&A:

Q: Aliyev circulates Garegin Nzdeh's name to harm AM-RU ties.

A: Nzdeh was a Russian army soldier during the Balkan wars and got an award...

Armenians had the 6th highest number of heroes in WW2...

My mother's uncle was one of the few who got all 3 stars of Glory...

75,000 Azeris joined Nazi Germany. There was an Azerbaijani Legion. [shows a pic with their uniform, Nazi-Azeri newspapers]. One of 1st Azeri Republic's leaders, Mammad Amin Rasulzadeh, closely cooperated with Nazis and participated in the Legion's formation. In 2014, Ilham Aliyev ordered big festivities to celebrate Rasulzahred's anniversary. They even created a stamp with his image. 4 cities, including Baku, have his statues.

https://youtu.be/0ylD10koz-8?t=213

--

Q: How did you sever ties with former political allies?

A: Different visions. Also, LHK was against mass protests to prevent Serj's "reproduction" in 2018. I'm not afraid of being "alone".

https://youtu.be/5lWzQ9L2Y9o

--

Q: How's relations with Russia? Gas? Felony investigations against Russian firms?

A: Global energy prices are down. Now is not the right time for Russia to raise gas prices. Gas is the only major issue in EAEU. We'll discuss it with Putin. Mutual compromises and understanding can solve problems between AM & RU.

https://youtu.be/E3NM_wc3vfQ

--

Q: Sup with the economy?

A: We officially predict -2% GDP, but I'm optimistic we can pull off >=0%

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/188091

--

Q: Some NGOs complain about judicial reforms and vetting not being strict enough.

A: History shows that fast reforms aren't always good reforms. We must take it slow to go deep. Also, who you gonna appoint as judges if you remove them en-masse? Honest people aren't always good professionals. Give me the list of honest people who're also professional.

https://youtu.be/RyKU-Sd7szQ

--

Q: Cigarette smuggling story.

A: My brother-in-law is suing Roboserj for defamation for blaming the incident on him. Let's wait for the trial. The IRS never helped any businessmen to smuggle cigarettes. It's on the exporters who tried to illegally unload the cargo in Russia instead of Afghanistan.

https://youtu.be/gC4foh6uscw

--

Q: About Constitutional Court (CC) referendum.

A: We can't have a referendum for a year due to COVID. Since we were supposed to have another referendum in 2021 to approve the wider Constitutional reforms, we could add the CC referendum into it, but we can't wait 1 year.

We're discussing options with Venice Commission. We could use Parliament to resolve the crisis now.

We could abolish the CC as it stands right now by merging it as part of a "higher court", as it's done in many countries, becuase today CC is too detached from the courts.

https://youtu.be/9SKXdYBLiNo

https://youtu.be/WoWhWLk14U4?t=65


Q: Businessman Lfik Samo's aide Armen Israelyan was murdered after giving an interview to your family's ArmTimes outlet. You blamed Lfik himself in the past. Why not solve the case now?

A: Doesn't matter whose outlet he gave an interview to, there are many unresolved murders. Recently I advised law enforcement to have special divisions tasked with unresolved murders.

https://youtu.be/00WqqZGoXVw

https://youtu.be/0tE2QFaWfWo

--

Q: About asset forfeiture.

A: Prosecutor's office will have a new division for it. We did the political part by approving the law, the rest is up to law enforcement. We haven't created a "list" of targets. The "list" was created by corrupt individuals by their actions.

https://youtu.be/b9g5oAuAJ_0

--

Q: You said $105mln has been recovered in stolen assets so far, but NSS and SIS gave smaller numbers.

A: NSS and SIS only include numbers that are recovered through felony processes. Some former officials decided to "donate" the money to Artsakh. These "donations" aren't reflected in law enforcement numbers.

https://youtu.be/YNi__caz99Y

--

Q: Amulsar.

A: Its fate depends on the ongoing felony case around it. ELARD nature auditors were supposed to visit and testify by now, but COVID messed it up. It's being delayed.

https://youtu.be/NWgFjmb0O1Y

--

Q: You said the Serj administration purged some documents from NSS archive before leaving.

A: We're talking about massive quantities. Thankfully, due to the nature of those documents, many were able to be recovered. Some won't be recovered. We have to find out what exactly was deleted, and why. I'm in talks with NSS.

https://youtu.be/ygozTfZ2eeE

Major anti-laundering precedence is set by Cassations Court

Someone was charged with money laundering in 2013. In 2017, the Lower Court acquitted him on the basis of not enough evidence, because the cash was laundered through various contracts and friends, without enough trace.

The Appeals Court flat out refused to hear the case again.

Prosecutors took it to Cassations Court. Its verdict acknowledges the complex and shady nature of some money laundering mechanisms and gives more ammunition to prosecutors.

Full: https://factor.am/250956.html

Systemic resistance in action / Passport office cleanup

A Canadian-Armenian woman earlier wrote a viral letter to Pashinyan to complain that the passport office gave her a runaround and was rude, after she returned to Armenia. An investigation resulted in the police's passport chief and another employee being fired. The police gives more details:

After 20 years in Canada, the woman returned to get an Armenian passport. Since she changed her name in Canada, she was told to visit another office in Armenia first.

This whole process unnecessarily dragged 5 months, during which one of the [anti-Pashinyan] passport employees cursed Pashinyan and told the woman "Pashinyan lied to you all" upon learning that the woman returned to Armenia inspired by Pashinyan's reforms.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/188213

U.S. increased aid by $11.5mln...

...as part of USAID initiative to help Armenia with democratic improvements, transparency, elections, etc.

http://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/281147/

COVID stats

+351 infected. 2718 active. 61 deaths. 1.3% death rate.

100 are serious/critical and need active care (full lockdown returns if this number gets close to 1500, which is the max ICU capacity for COVID)

--

Healthcare Minister Torosyan: I'm seeing more and more harmful conspiracy theories that COVID is fake, they're doing it to put microchips in people, it's for getting external money, etc. Who is spreading these rumors, and why? If it starts harming the public by making them less vigilant, we'll have to ask the law enforcement to intervene.

(COVID rumors were banned when the Emergency Situation was declared, but the govt quickly removed the gag after journalists criticized censorship.)

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/188163 , https://factor.am/250931.html

Public transport being monitored...

...against over-crowing. Standing is prohibited. Some buses were unloaded and taken to a station for violation. One passenger tati was particularly agitated, "Why? For what? I'm not sick and I've never been sick."

https://youtu.be/M7iemB3QiuA?t=127

Zvartnots airport could be renamed...

...after Charles Aznavour. His son Nikola says it could have both names: Շառլ Ազնավուրի անվան Զվարթնոց օդանավակայան

The govt asked the Public Council to discuss.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/188180 , https://factor.am/250980.html

Bus production in Armenia

In 2019, the govt created the "Armenian Interests Fund" to help foreign investors.

It negotiated with the Korean "Youngsan" firm ($500mln turnover) to invest $4.4mln in Armenia and produce 3 types of 10-meter buses for the EAEU market.

Over time, the raw materials will also be produced in Armenia. For now, they'll be imported and assembled. COVID delayed the upcoming meeting.

Armenia will co-finance the factory and become a 40-49% shareholder.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1015584.html

the return of cooperatives

Norashen farmers are growing Russian Dolphins. The locals called it Lil' Cow. It's a family of kidney beans that replaced the local seed for its high yield and lesser water need.

"You get 4x the revenue and the demand is high," said the mayor.

The sole 30-year-old tractor is used to seed the lands which were historically used for wheat. "Wheat has always disappointed us."

60 farmers joined the cooperative. They're using their lands, as well as abandoned lands belonging to others. "It's easier to work together in cooperatives."

The UN is helping with investments to deliver the yield to the market, purchase equipment, packaging, etc.

https://youtu.be/mxN3uC_oagw

Govt will purchase 25k computers...

...for poor rural kids so they can take online classes. Some 21k kids are left behind so far.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1015484.html

Percentage of soccer teams from the capital

Armenian national league has 10 teams, 70% of which from Yerevan. Armenia has the 2nd highest concentration in the EU.

Gibraltar, Armenia, Estonia.

https://factor.am/250731.html

Armenian Masis cigarette reaches Azerbaijan...

...causing a big scandal. A resident in central Sabirabad entered a store and notice the pack with the Armenian tag. The govt is investigating.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/188225


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/gm7m2c/may182020_news_1_armenia_will_produce_buses_2/


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