2021 March 2

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

Mar/2/2021: (1) President "fires" GCoS by not disputing Pashinyan's claim in Court (2) Parliament grills Supreme Court chief over "political statement" (3) Pension law reforms (4) Business resumes in Artsakh (5) Constitutional reforms (6) POW & search (7) Court sets precedence (8) TUMO expands (9)..
by ar_david_hh


Your 13-minute Tuesday report in 3245 words.

business is slowly resuming in Artsakh

Artsakh IRS: we predicted ֏2.6B in tax revenues during January-February but collected ֏2.8 instead, an increase of 8.8%. From that sum, the ֏2.195B or 78% came from large businesses.

The vast majority of taxpayers had stopped making payments since the war, but the payments have gradually increased this year with taxpayers fulfilling their obligations in good faith.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044917.html

pension law reforms / elderly get extra / more convenience for disabled citizens / ստաժ

Labor Minister Mesrop: the draft bill will provide a supplement to citizens over the age of 90.

Parents who take care of disabled underage children will have that time added to their labor record as retirement ստաժ.

Disabled citizens or those over 90, who receive their pensions electronically, will no longer have to physically visit banks once a year. The proof of their presence in the country will be verified by the Ministry.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044918.html politicians discuss snap elections / semi-presidential system

Pashinyan held a phone conversation with LHK leader Edmon Marukyan to discuss snap elections. They will meet tomorrow.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044910.html

President Sarkissian met LHK leader Marukyan to discuss a possible switch to a semi-presidential state via Constitutional reforms, and the possibility of snap elections soon.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044922.html

QP MP Alen: ever since Serj Sargsyan rigged the Constitutional referendum vote and passed the current Constitution, we've seen that it has flaws that can result in vacuum and crisis. One solution is a semi-presidential state.

In a semi-presidential state, the three branches keep tabs on each other, while the president serves as a guarantor for Constitutional order. The differences may be small, but depending on the country, the need may vary. Wars and other force majeure situations may be handled better under a semi-presidential state.

https://factor.am/343559.html

QP MP Alen: I don't rule out the possibility of meeting BHK chief Tsarukyan to discuss snap elections, either today or tomorrow.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044895.html

President won't sign Pashinyan's second petition to fire GCoS, but won't send it to Constitutional Court either / GCoS will be automatically fired

President earlier refused to sign. Pashinyan responded to his refusal, saying Sarkissian's reason for not signing is "unfounded", and sent it back to Sarkissian.

Today, as predicted. Sarkissian refused to sign it again, saying:

We should resolve this crisis ASAP. I met with the Premier, GCoS Onik, and other generals. The current situation is a result of disagreements among political and military figures in the post-war period, sometimes being highly personalized. The legally problematic interpretations and possible gaps in the law, which are the basis for objecting to the signing of the decree, cannot be ignored.

Instead, I will ask the Constitutional Court to rule whether the relevant law, approved in 2017, about military service, is Constitutional or not.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044932.html

After learning about Sarkissian's decision, former regime leaders demanded an immediate meeting with him. They were hoping that Sarkissian would send Pashinyan's petition itself to Constitutional Court, which could delay the GCoS firing for a very long time, or eliminate it altogether.

Instead, Sarkissian is asking the Constitutional Court to discuss the constitutionality of relevant law as a separate petition. Pashinyan's decree is not being challenged in the Court, and the decree is left unsigned, therefore GCoS Onik Gasparyan will be automatically fired by March 5th.

Upon the news, BHK leader Tsarukyan visited President Sarkissian's home.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044938.html , https://factor.am/343766.html , https://factor.am/343908.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/207917 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/207933

whose side is the army on?

After the GCoS's letter about PM's resignation, the ex-regime opposition has been claiming that the army has joined the opposition against the government. They urged supporters to make a final push and remove Pashinyan. A QP MP responded today, saying the 40 generals do not represent the whole army.

Parliamentary Security Committee chief: during the latest opposition rallies, [gneral and March 1st defendant] Yuri Khachaturov welcomed the GCoS letter urging Premier's resignation. During yesterday's rally, he began with chanting "Nation! Army! Victory!", which was rooted in the first Artsakh war victory, to which Khachaturov and several generals had their share of contribution.

The aforementioned slogan, however, had changed its meaning after the October 27, 1999, terror attack, after which the military became more active in politics. During this time, the indifference and corruption penetrated the army, which lead to our defeat during the 2016 April war, and our military leadership's improper management of the army during 2020.

Yuri Khachaturov and many generals were awarded higher ranks for using the army to serve as political tools.

https://youtu.be/e4cCrHBZ_7g , https://factor.am/343740.html

Artsakh prosecutors launch felony cases relating war

In one instance, yet-to-be-named officials are accused of negligence and failure to evacuate people/items from endangered regions.

In another instance, unnamed individual(s) are accused of toppling the Constitutional Order. A special investigative group is handling the case.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044946.html

are the Russian weapons high-quality?

There has been a talk lately about the quality of the weapons (artillery, Iskander) purchased from Russia.

Question: why did Pashinyan's office release a statement about him being briefed incorrectly about Iskander's quality, immediately after holding a conversation with Vladimir Putin over a phone? Are Russian weapons of high quality?

Ruling QP MP Alen: I consider the Russian weapon to be the best, and Russia's actions during the war were akin to an ally. I think our Russian colleagues are aware of all the issues that arose during the war.

Ind. MP Babajanyan: Armenia, Artsakh, and the Russian weapon lost the war.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044901.html , https://youtu.be/LcOJkPKuRrI , https://factor.am/343804.html

Russian media outlet Kommersant about Pashinyan's March 1st rally and ability to act simultaneously as government and opposition

The article talks about the March 1st rally. "The Prime Minister won the street confrontation with the opposition... He launched a counter-offense and showed that he can act as a government and as an opposition. Pashinyan has done the politically unthinkable... He wants Constitutional changes to possibly switch to a semi-presidential system."

More translated: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/207945

prosecutors win major court battle that "sets precedence in anti-corruption fight"

A director of a government-linked organization was found guilty of committing embezzlement and forgery under the orders of Education Ministry officials in 2011-2016.

The Lower Court found him guilty in 2020. He received a monetary penalty but didn't serve time due to Pashinyan's 2018 mass amnesty.

Prosecutors weren't happy because the court did not prohibit the corrupt official from holding similar public offices for X number of years.

The case reached the Appeals Court, which sided with the Lower Court, stating that the part of the law that prohibits holding similar job positions does not apply to certain cases.

Unhappy prosecutors escalated it to Cassations Court, which sided with prosecutors, thus setting a precedence that corrupt officials lose a privilege to hold certain jobs for a period, as an anti-corruption preventative measure.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044949.html

Parliament grills Supreme Court chief Ruben Vardazaryan over "political statement" / վնգստացող դատավորներ

Context: Supreme Court chief is accused of making a politically-charged and anti-government statement to urge other judges not to arrest opposition figures who were being arrested for threats/riots/martial law violations. While doing so, he used a phrase used by Pashinyan in the past, so his critics argue it was a jab at Pashinyan, so he is politically biased.

QP MP: After the war ended, when an assassination attempt was made against Parliament Speaker Ararat Mirzoyan, and information became available about a murder plot against PM Pashinyan, did you urge for restraint or not, by sending that message to judges? You have failed your mission by crossing the political line. Have you considered resignation?

Supreme Court chief: I have not. Allow me to be the one to choose the period when I should think about a resignation.

QP MP: in your November 15th statement, why did you include political statements aimed at Prime Minister, why not just urge fellow judges to be impartial and stop at that?

Supreme Court chief: I had to urge courts not to politicize. My words were misinterpreted as being political. I think my message was appropriate and effective because today, more than ever, courts are functioning independently.

QP MP: once again, if your goal was to keep judges from being politicized, why did you use language with political context? Later in 2020, you said you are aware of [biased judges].

Supreme Court chief: yes, I used the terminology "judges who howl behind a door" [those who take orders] considering the fact it was a widely discussed phrase in the judicial system, where everyone else was wondering whether we have "judges who howl behind doors". Many other judges asked the same question. We must address that question once and for all, to prove to our public that we don't have such judges.

QP MP: is there an international practice where an assassination attempt is made against a politician [November 9th attack against Mirzoyan] and the perpetrators are not arrested or get released?

Supreme Court chief: I'm personally not familiar with all the details of that case. If there is evidence of a violation by a judge, the Supreme Court will undoubtedly take action. I intentionally did not familiarize myself with that case to remain neutral in the event such disciplinary cases are filed.

Ind. MP Babajanyan: your message to judges to be lenient on assailants have enabled the [opposition fuigures] to make even more terroristic statements. It is a result of your message shielding their actions. Have courage and admit that you made a political statement. You will answer for your actions one day.

Supreme Court chief: I'd like to officially announce that my statement was not political in nature. If you believe I broke the law, you may launch a proceeding.

QP MP: how many judges have lost their seats under your administration?

Supreme Court chief: 2 judges, in my 1.5 years as chief.

QP MP: is that enough to restore the public's trust in the judicial system?

Supreme Court chief: the Supreme Court does not launch proceedings to fire judges. We accept petitions from Justice Ministry, the judicial ethics body, and the Corruption Prevention Committee. [ask them why they haven't petitioned for more judges to be fired]

Journalist: is the judicial system under the influence of government?

Supreme Court chief: absolutely not.

Journalist: then how do you comment on the arrest of Ara Saghatelyan? [a former regime figure who is charged with using a fake Facebook account to incite riots/violence] Opposition says it's political persecution.

Supreme Court chief: I can't comment on his case and I advise everyone before you comment on that case you should familiarize yourselves with the details first. Let it be me, another person, other politicians, or you, no one can comment without learning details first, and you could not have the details right now because the files are still sealed as part of a preliminary investigation.

More: https://factor.am/343709.html , https://factor.am/343724.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044934.html , https://factor.am/343689.html , https://factor.am/343701.html , https://youtu.be/DR2V4usYwP8 , https://factor.am/343731.html , https://factor.am/343737.html , https://youtu.be/HksEFnWm0po

Arbitration vs Court / Court fee reforms

The Parliament is in a 4-day session and in the coming days, there will be discussions over various bills, details of which will be presented to you later, once they reach a final stage.

One of the government bills will raise the state fee while filing certain court cases. Justice Ministry says the fee hasn't changed since 1999 despite the increase in income.

The fee will increase, going from 2% to 3%. An upper limit will be introduced for the Lower Court to ֏25M, Appeals ֏15M, Cassations ֏10M, Bankruptcy case ֏1.5M, to prevent excessive collections.

Alternative dispute methods, such as an Arbitration institute that is faster than Courts, will not collect some fees. This is meant to encourage Arbitration over Court for certain disputes. Arbitration would be much faster than regular courts, argue the lawmakers.

LHK MP Ani welcomed the move to reduce the burden on the Courts, noting that it would have been better to wait for these alternative institutes to be ready before passing this law. (There is another pending bill about establishing an Arbitration system.)

Another LHK MP Gorgisyan asked whether it's justified to raise the Court fees under today's conditions. The justice official noted that socio-economic indicators rose 5x since the passage of the existing law, even when taking into account the 2020 events.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044916.html , http://progressgyumri.am/news/11702

search operations resume after a lengthy pause

Bad weather and Azerbaijan's request to suspend search operations had paused the process for two weeks. Four crews resumed the search today in the southern direction. One body was discovered near northern Martakert.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044886.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044962.html

POWs

Pashinyan met families of missing soldiers to brief them on the ongoing process. A parent said the ongoing political issues within the country hinder the negotiations process, and that they will resume soon. "The search operations for bodies and POW negotiations are carried out separately."

https://factor.am/343676.html

US Ambassador Tracey: The United States makes efforts to facilitate the return of Armenian POWs. [she held discussions with Parliament leadership]

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044961.html

Russian Parliamentary official Valentina Matvienko recently spoke with speaker Mirzoyan about POWs. She sent a note to Azerbaijani Parliament, asking for aid to release several female POWs.

https://factor.am/343965.html

Foreign Minister's phone conversation with European diplomat

Ayvazyan spoke with an EU foreign affairs diplomat Oliver about the Armenia-Europe Comprehensive cooperation agreement that went into law yesterday. They also spoke about regional security and POWs.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044879.html

rumors & rebuttals: manipulated images and Nikol's car

Tens of thousands of people attended Pashinyan's March 1st rally. Some opposition outlets claimed an image taken in Republic Square was edited to increase the number of participants. A fact-checker, citing the use of fake-detector, disputes the claim, and showed images from other angles.

https://fip.am/14887

The fact-checker also disputed a claim by one of Rob's media outlets, which claimed that Pashinyan spent $320,000 to purchase a new and beefier bulletproof vehicle after the war.

Later, a photo was shared showing Serj Sargsyan using the same car. It turns out the vehicle was purchased by Serj in 2010.

https://fip.am/14896

Iran and Turkey in a diplomatic conflict over Turkish actions in Iraq

Turkey is afraid of Kurdish forces gaining power in northern Syria and Iraq, so they planned to cut off the communication between them. They invaded a northern Iraqi area.

The Iranian ambassador in Iraq condemned the Turkish invasion of northern Iraq, calling it a violation of sovereignty.

A Turkish politician accused Iran of shielding members of Kurdish PKK forces in Iran. In response, Iran summoned the Turkish ambassador and served him with a note of complaint.

In turn, Turkey summoned the Iranian ambassador and accused Iran of "hypocrisy" regarding the invasion accusations.

https://factor.am/343436.html , https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-02-28/turkey-iran-spar-diplomatically-amid-turkish-threats-over-iraq

sky is blue / Kocharyan trial is delayed again due to defendant's "poor health"

A March 1st co-defendant Armen Gevorgyan, Kocharyan's former chief of staff, did not attend the trial due to fever; the COVID test results are pending. The judge postponed the trial.

The prosecutor accused the defense of "once again delaying the trial, a tactic seen for over a year."

Meanwhile, Vazgen Manukyan's and Kocharyan's allies closed a road near the court building with demands for Pashinyan's resignation.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044911.html , https://factor.am/343565.html

anti-corruption: police busts 17 people with fake war participation documents

17 people are accused of stealing ֏3.3M from the state by falsifying documents to claim they had participated in the war but the government failed to provide them aid. The Ministry ended up adding them to the aid recipient list, before learning it was a fraud.

https://factor.am/343793.html

unholy affairs: NSS busts a crook who defrauded missing soldiers' family

NSS report says: the suspect learned that a soldier went missing during the war and decided to defraud his family by telling the father that he has connections abroad who could secure the son's return.

He told the father that $30,000 is needed to bring the son back, but half of it is paid by the White Cross organization, so the father only has to pay $15,000. He met the father and took the money on February 24th, but little did he know that NSS was already on his a$$. He was caught on the spot and arrested.

Video of arrest: https://youtu.be/IVMq4LxYRZY , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044881.html

holy affairs: the church is retraining a group of priests with psychological support skills

The church and the Round Table Foundation launched an initiative to train priests and local mental health service workers with better skills. The priests were praised for the practice of visiting residents' homes and providing services.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044883.html

more holy affairs: dozens of Artsakh churchgoers visit Amaras monastery accompanies by peacekeepers

Russian peacekeepers accompanied 30 people from Stepanakert to visit the monastery in the south-east.

https://youtu.be/LQaqkUlPXDI

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044882.html

Matenadaran hosts manuscripts evacuated from Artsakh

Gandzasar's manuscripts were removed to safety during the war. Over 50 items were placed on display in Yerevan's Matenadaran today.

More/Photos: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044936.html

COVID stats

2951 tested. 240 infected. 227 healed. 1 death. 4700 active.

A Healthcare official believes the recent rise is due to the resumption of schools and the public ignoring safety rules.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044887.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/207862

Kotayk province will have more TUMO education centers

TUMO leaders met Kotayk officials to discuss the construction of two TUMO centers and adjacent mobile TUMO Boxes.

https://factor.am/343832.html

Javakh will also have TUMO centers

Akhalqalaq, Georgia (heavily populated by Armenians) will have a TUMO center for 160 students. The classes will be in Armenian and English.

https://factor.am/343933.html

Yerevan metro marks the 40th anniversary

In 1964, Yerevan's newly designed city plan envisioned Metro as the most efficient way of transportation, which was a hot topic at the time. The permit to dig was granted in 1971 but it was for an underground tramway. 6 years later, a permit was issued to convert it into a metropolitan construction. (don't ask me what the difference is)

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044898.html

Yerevan has stricter construction rules / safety & pollution / protect the green and esthetics

New construction rules go into effect this Spring, regarding the organization of construction sites and sanitary.

Yerevan officials: I'm holding documents from 1980. Back then we had that culture of protecting green zones. We need to return to that culture. The new rules will also take into account international practices.

No construction material can accumulate, no heavy equipment can be parked, and cement cannot be mixed within 1.5 meters of green areas. If a tree's lower end is damaged, it can lead to its death due to penetration of disease.

The construction zone must be closed with appropriate barriers, which must have appropriate printings on them. You can download the pint material for free at yerevan.am. The print, which is attached to construction zone fences, gives it a nicer look. They feature Armenia's historical-cultural buildings.

147 construction firms were penalized last year with ֏70-100K fees.

Photos: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/207969

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044955.html

Armenian wrestlers win 5 medals in Kyiev international tournament

600 Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestlers from 35 states competed for medals. Armenians won 1 gold, 1 silver, and 3 bronze.

The chad who won the gold is Malkhas Amoyan. He defeated the Rio Olympics bronze winner with a 9:1 score.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044878.html

today in history

1853: Kristaphor (Khachatur) Kara-Murza was born. Armenian composer and music critic.

1981: first Yerevan metro station was tested

1917: Tsar Nikolai 2nd abdicates

1992: Armenia joins the UN

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1044863.html

donations to Artsakh & recovering soldiers

www.1000plus.am (recovering soldiers & their families)

www.HimnaDram.org (for Artsakh & Armenia)

www.ArmeniaFund.org (U.S. tax-deductible)

archive of older news

http://www.armeniapedia.org/wiki/Daily_Anti-Corruption_Reports

disclaimer

All the accused are considered innocent unless proven guilty in the court of law, even if they "sound" or "appear" guilty.


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/lwblvr/mar22021_1_president_fires_gcos_by_not_disputing/

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