Feb 20, 2019

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Mysterious Talk of Armen Sarkissian and Joe Biden: Turning Point

During a break at Munich Security Summit the Armenian president Armen Sarkissian met with the former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. The video shows them having a hearty talk. Then one can see how their conversation takes place quietly, far from curious ears, and the impression is that President Sarkissian is agreeing something with the former U.S. Vice President.

Joe Biden drew the attention of the Armenian public by a vide in which he tells in a short talk with an Armenian young man that Serzh Sargsyan had asked them not to recognize the genocide not to create obstacles to the Armenian-Turkish dialogue.

Biden, however, had a key role ahead of the four-day war in Artsakh in April 2016, whether intentionally or not. The point is that on 31 March 2016 both Serzh Sargsyan and Ilham Aliyev were invited to the United States to attend the nuclear security summit. Ahead of this there was a conversation on a possible Sargsyan-Aliyev meeting which was going to focus on ceasefire mechanisms to alleviate border tension and frequent violations of the ceasefire. The United States was trying to activate talks in this direction ahead of the four-day war.

There was no Sargsyan-Aliyev meeting in Washington, Vice President Biden met with both separately. In this respect, an interesting statement was made by Serzh Sargsyan after the start of the four-day war in April when Azerbaijan attacked in the morning of April 2. Sargsyan stated that in the United States he had called on Joe Biden and Secretary Kerry to stop Baku from breaching the ceasefire.

“I had meetings with Vice President Biden and Secretary Kerry. I called on them to stop Azerbaijan from breaching the ceasefire but as you saw a few hours after the meeting the events took place which could have grown into something now,” Serzh Sargsyan stated in the evening of April 2.

In fact, he hinted that the United States had not managed to prevent the four-day war. Considering what Serzh Sargsyan announced in Berlin later, during his joint press conference in Berlin, and the question he asked to Lavrov in Yerevan on April 22, ostensibly on April 2 Serzh Sargsyan hinted openly that while in Washington he tried to call on the United States to prevent the maturing war but did not manage. It is also possible that Serzh Sargsyan hinted that the attack in the morning of April 2 was rapidly co-organized by Russia and Azerbaijan to be faster than the United States.

At least it was impressive when Serzh Sargsyan asked Lavrov on April 22 how come it happened, we have our opinion but we want to listen to yours.

Meanwhile, the four-day war in April was a fundamental, deep process, a transformation for the domestic life and regional setting, with an unmasking role both internally and externally. Moreover, in order to understand the current process at best it is necessary to understand the events that preceded and followed the April war in Karabakh.

Biden is one of the possible Democrat candidates ahead of the U.S. presidential election in 2020. He has the biggest chance to defeat Trump according to a poll held a few months ago.


Sashik Sargsyan Transferred 18.5 Million Dollars to Treasury

Alexander Sargsyan, the brother of the ex-president Serzh Sargsyan, has transferred to the treasury 18.5 million dollars, the prime minister’s office informed Civilnet in answer to their written inquiry.

Civilnet had sent an inquiry to the prime minister’s office to find out what pledges have been made to the government since 2018, what amounts or properties were pledged and what part of these pledges have been fulfilled.

“In the period of investigation of different criminal cases involving Alexader Sargsyan has voluntarily transferred to the treasury an equivalent of 18.5 million dollars,” the prime minister’s office replied.


Sedrak Kocharyan Avoided Tax in the Amount of 2 Billion Drams, Laundered 5.3 Million USD

The National Security Service informed today that investigation found cases of tax avoidance and money laundering, involving Sedrak Kocharyan, the son of the second president of Armenia Robert Kocharyan.

Sedrak Kocharyan, through one of his limited liability companies, organized and led the process of putting obviously false data in tax calculations to hide the source of unpaid tax on income received in a criminal way, legalized the income by way of a series of bank transfers and investments in acquisition of property.

In particular, 5.3 million dollars were laundered by way of signing 2 false agreements on lending and 5.3 million dollars were transferred to Sedrak Kocharyan’s bank account as repayment, thereby avoiding taxes.

In addition, the director of the aforementioned company who must have deducted income tax from the amount received by Sedrak Kocharyan from a third person, as instructed by Sedrak Kocharyan, put false data in the calculations for tax reports and avoided to pay tax in the amount of916,706,560 AMD (with fines the amount goes up to 1,968,627,338 AMD).

Afterwards, several transactions were performed to launder the amount received in a criminal way. In particular, Sedrak Kocharyan added it to 5,682,960 USD which was already on his bank account and legalized through a series of bank transfers, foreign currency transactions, investment in buying the Best Western Congress Hotel.

Sedrak Kocharyan, the elder son of the ex-president of Armenia, and Alexan Vorskanyan, the director of the LLC, are charged. The latter has accepted the charges. He will not be remanded in custody.

The investigation continues to check the lawfulness of real estate and other assets acquired by Sedrak Kocharyan and his family, the investigative department of the National Security Service informs.


76 Volumes: Ex-President’s Advocates Asked for Time to Read Materials

The second president Robert Kocharyan’s advocates asked for time from the investigative body to study the materials of the criminal case, the spokesperson for the ex-president’s counsel for the defense Elen Arakelyan told Armenpress.

“The case consists of 76 volumes. The team of the advocates has asked the investigative body for some time to familiarize with the materials of the case,” Elen Arakelyan said.

Earlier the special investigative service had informed that the investigation of the events that took place on 1-2 March 2008 in Yerevan has ended, and evidence to the case is sufficient to draft the indictments of the second president Robert Kocharyan, the ex-chief of staff of the armed forces of Armenia Seiran Ohanyan, the ex-deputy minister of defense Yuri Khachaturov and the ex-chief of staff of the president of Armenia Armen Gevorgyan and to send the case to court.

Robert Kocharyan is accused of toppling constitutional order and bribery under Article 300.1 Para 1 and Article 4 Para 2 of the Criminal Code.

Seiran Ohanyan is accused of toppling constitutional order under Article 300.1 Para 1 of the Criminal Code.

Yuri Khachaturov is accused of toppling constitutional order under Article 300.1 Para 1 and Article 4 Para 2 of the Criminal Code.

Armen Gevorgyan is accused of assisting in toppling constitutional order, bribery and legalization of property gained illegally under Article 38-300.1 Para 1, Article 311 Para 4.2 and Article 190 Para 3.1 of the Criminal Code.

The participants of trial have been informed about the end of the investigation and the latter have been explained their right to familiarize with the materials of the criminal case.


Converse Bank has Introduced Two Credit Products Aimed at Development of Shirak Region

Converse Bank has introduced “Gyumri” and “Gyumri Agro” loan types for development of SMEs and the agricultural sector in Shirak region.

The new SME funding product “Gyumri” is intended for financing of investment projects implemented in the region in the sectors of tourism (including tourism infrastructure), trade, and service, including start-ups.

Lending is provided in three currencies – in AMD, with the annual interest rate starting from 10.5%, in USD – 8%, and Euro – 6%. Loan maturity is up to 120 months. The option of a 24-months’ grace period for repayment of the principal amount is offered to start-up projects.

“The product will be offered to customers as part of the comprehensive package of banking services, within the framework of which borrowers will also be provided with the opportunity to make use of other services offered by the Bank, on privileged terms. Namely, along with “Gyumri” loan, the borrowers will be offered free use of Converse Bank’s internet banking and mobile banking services, issuance and service of corporate cards, installation of POS terminals without the service fee for one year, etc.”, – they said at Converse Bank.

Within the framework of “Gyumri Agro” loan, agro lending with maturity up to 84 months will be offered, with the annual interest rate starting from 10.5% for AMD loans, and 8% for USD loans.

“Anyone willing to make investments in Shirak region is eligible to apply for the new banking products. Among potential beneficiaries of the project, businessmen from Shirak region, currently working abroad, who intend to return and start their business in the region, are of particular importance. It should be noted that in case of SME lending we are ready not just to finance their investment projects, but also to provide business advice to them throughout implementation of the projects”, – it was stated at Converse Bank.

It was mentioned that Converse Bank had announced about the intention to launch such products several months ago, during the outgoing session of Converse Bank’s Board held in Gyumri.

For details of SME lending product “Gyumri” and “Gyumri Agro” loan type, please follow the links https://www.conversebank.am/hy/gyumriloan/ and https://www.conversebank.am/hy/gyumriagroloan/,  accordingly.


New souvenir sheet with one stamp dedicated to the theme “Prominent Armenians. 150th anniversary of Hovhannes Toumanian”

On February 18th, 2019, a souvenir sheet with one stamp dedicated to the theme “Prominent Armenians. 150th anniversary of Hovhannes Toumanian” has been cancelled and put into circulation by “HayPost” CJSC in the premises of Hovhannes Toumanian museum.

The souvenir sheet with nominal value of 1100 AMD is printed in “Lowe Martin Group” printing house in Canada with the print-run of 20 000 pcs. The author of the souvenir sheet’s design is the chief designer of “HayPost” CJSC Vahagn Mkrtchyan.

The postage stamp of the souvenir sheet depicts the famous Armenian writer, poet, national and public figure Hovhannes Toumanian against the background of his books and handwriting. The postage stamp also depicts the logo of UNESCO as the 150th anniversary of Hovhannes Toumanian is included in the 2018-2019 UNESCO calendar of renowned people and important events.

The souvenir sheet was cancelled by the Minister of Transport, Communication and Information Technologies of the Republic of Armenia Hakob Arshakyan, the Minister of Education and Science Arayik Harutyunyan, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affaires of the Republic of Armenia Artak Apitonyan, the Chairman of the Board of “HayPost” CJSC Juan Pablo Gechidjian, the President of the Union of Philatelists of the RA Hovik Musayelyan.

Date of issue: February 18, 2019

Designer: Vahagn Mkrtchyan

Printing house: Lowe Martin Group, Canada

Stamp size: 40,0 x 40,0 mm

S/sheet size: 60,0 x 60,0 mm

Print run: 20 000 pcs

“HayPost” CJSC

Haypost Trust Management B.V.


New export orders with the support of Business Armenia: Leather items will be exported to EU, Asia and Russia

With the support of Business Armenia, the factory of Elmasta, a handbags producing company in Russia, and Armenian companies, will cooperate in producing leather bags in our country. Outsourced models of our companies, produced with “Made in Armenia” modeling, will be exported to the European Union, Asian countries, and Russia. The first batch to Russia is planned to be exported in late February.

“At this stage, we introduce a foreign businessman to Armenia/EAEU raw material import, commodity export regimes, EU GSP+, REX and other privileged procedures. In addition, we have organized B2B meetings with local manufacturers, after which export agreements have been reached,” noted Anahit Mkrtchyan, Exporters Support Manager at Business Armenia.

The specialists of Elmasta are invited to visit the Armenian pavilion of “MosShoes 2019” international exhibition to be held in Moscow in March. With the support of Business Armenia, it will be possible to get acquainted with the products of more companies and to get new arrangements.

The owner of Elmasta leather accessories factory, Vladimir Ulianov, and vice-president of Alliance Russian-Georgian-Armenian Business Relations Foundation, Inga Drinevskaya, with the support of Business Armenia’s specialists, had meetings with experts from companies representing Armenian Artis, Amore and Safian brands, which produce leather goods and bags, got acquainted with production potential and product quality. A decision to establish a company in Armenia and engage in export of Armenian goods was made.

Public Relations Team


Armenia’s Incredible Status: What Happened in Sochi

The president of Belarus Lukashenko stated after negotiations with the Russian president Putin lasting for three days that they did not discuss the sovereignty of the two countries because sovereignty is “sacred” for both. We proceed from the existence of two states.

The issue appeared in focus during the past weeks and months, especially when the president of Belarus started speaking about pressure on sovereignty, and then said on another occasion that he is for a unified state but given they set out equally, not with Russian dominance.

At the same time, the Russian circles suggest that the Russian president is considering unification with Belarus for his fifth term. In 2022 Putin’s fourth term ends, including the second term of his second “appearance”. He does not have the right to run for another term, he needs to find an heir or otherwise become president for life or anyhow ensure legal grounds for running for another term.

Some experts said that an option could be the establishment of a new union state with Belarus.

Of course, it is also possible that Putin put forth the topic of union in response to Lukashenko’s queries on oil and gas unity, especially that Belarus and Russia have this complicated issue. Moscow does not want Minsk to keep hundred million-dollar revenues from reselling Russian gas. Minsk certainly does not want to share them with Moscow. After discussions in Sochi lasting for almost three days Lukashenko states that they did not discuss unification. At the same time, however, Lukashenko stated that Putin and he are not eternal and will leave one day and they are worried about the destiny of their unified state.

Are Lukashenko and Putin playing a game, trying to resolve domestic issues or is there indeed a silent confrontation between them, depending on the issue of government?

It is interesting that Lukashenko is speaking about them not being eternal. On the other hand, what did Putin say on this? What has Putin said on this? Has the Russian president shared with Lukashenko his plan of formatting the Russian government, setting forth tough conditions to give guarantees to the president of Belarus? Or is Lukashenko demanding clear guarantees or an expensive price to support the solution of domestic issues? This is not a purely Russian-Belorussian or Putin-Lukashenko issue and it has its circle of influence in terms of Eurasian and international security. Armenia has its own place in this context, especially in the mess of CSTO Secretary General which has given Armenia a possibility for multi-vector steps. Interestingly, on the first day of Putin-Lukashenko meeting the spokesperson for the foreign ministry of Belarus reminded about the necessity to resolve this issue quickly, and on the same day the Armenian ambassador met with the Belorussian prime minister in Minsk.

In this situation, Armenia features as an “arbiter” in which many in Armenia cannot believe. In this sense, many are in a hurry to address various issues, including by way of using the inability of different circles in Armenia, directly or indirectly, as long as there is no full trust in the possibilities that occurred in the result of the velvet revolution.


Artsakh Issue in Munich: They Didn’t Talk to Aliyev, Letter from Sochi

President Armen Sarkissian has left for Germany to attend the annual security summit in Munich. During this high-level meeting the heads of states and high-ranking officials discuss issues of international security.

The Armenian president Armen Sarkissian will also address Munich 2019. Armenia is represented by the president and foreign minister, Prime Minister Pashinyan did not leave for Munich. Why the prime minister skips the summit is not known. At the same time, it is known that the heads of states of Russia, the United States, France and Israel will not attend the summit for different reasons.

Besides, there is no information whether Ilham Aliyev will also be in Munich. Besides, it is not known whether Pashinyan and Aliyev will not leave Munich because they have no intention to meet. In its turn, the question is whether they had nothing else to do aside from meeting each other.

On the other hand, Armenia has a chance to be more flexible thanks to transition to parliamentary governance, as well as the decision made on the choice of the president. In particular, the seemingly ceremonial role of the Armenian president is performed by a person who is skilled in international relations, and in this sense Armenia has space for tactical flexibility through informal involvement of Armen Sarkissian. Informal because the president is not authorized to do foreign policy.

Nevertheless, Armen Sarkissian is involved in foreign policy and this involvement is not in spite of the prime minister but agreed with the prime minister, about which the president’s office has made a statement.

In this sense, Munich Security Summit has been entrusted to President Sarkissian, already back last year when the organizers were invited to Minsk, the first meeting of the working group preparing the summit.

The meeting in Minsk took place in a significant period when the process of the issue of CSTO Secretary General was in a dynamic stage and the rhetoric between Yerevan and Minsk was intensive.

In this sense, the meeting of the working group of Munich Security Summit and the participation of the Armenian president in it brought an interesting “nerve” to the maturing agenda of Munich. The point is about the questions raised by Armenia in CSTO as to whether the organization is a showcase or real, and generally touched upon the guiding and philosophy of the Eurasian security system. In this period, the “Munich” meeting in Minsk was certainly associated with or related to the developments in this important wing of global security which are essential to the entire international security system.

In this context, it was symptomatic that Armen Sarkissian’s participation in Minsk brought the Artsakh issue on the agenda in Minsk, which is the key point in the Eurasian wing of international security where 25 years ago the new security philosophy was established but did not gain neither international nor local Eurasian “record”.

In fact, in CSTO Armenia brings up the issue of record, linking it to Munich. In this sense, the work of Munich Security Summit and the participation of the Armenian president starts within the framework of the issues raised by Armenia, along with the start of the Armenian humanitarian mission to Syria, in this sense alongside with the two other security meetings: the Russia-Iran-Turkey meeting in Sochi where the president of Belarus is staying for a while, and the U.S.-Poland meeting on Syria in Warsaw with the participation of Israel.

What has Armen Sarkissian taken to Munich in that global and at the same time in the context of time, space and developments? Armenia has strengthened its foothold for the right to vote in discussions on the agenda of the international security system, continuing it into the summit in Munich and the start of the Syrian mission.

Significantly, there is no need for a Pashinyan-Aliyev meeting in Munich because over this time Armenia has enhanced and enlarged the issues beyond Aliyev’s level. Ahead of Munich the president of Aliyev felt that he is being forgotten and decided to remind of himself, stating that “force bears right” but the response was not reassuring for him. The spokesperson for the foreign ministry of Belarus stated that the issue of CSTO secretary general must be resolved rapidly. From Sochi they communicated to Baku through Minsk that Aliyev’s concern is not on the agenda.


Investigation Involving Ex-president Kocharyan, Armen Gevorgyan, Seiran Ohanyan and Yuri Khachaturov Completed

The investigation of the developments that took place in Yerevan on March 1 – 2, 2008 has been completed by the Special Investigative Service. Indictments have been brought against the ex-president of Armenia Robert Kocharyan, the former chief of staff of the Armed Forces Seiran Ohanyan, the former deputy minister of defense Yuri Khachatryan and the former chief of staff of the president of Armenia Armen Gevorgyan.

Robert Kocharyan is accused of toppling constitutional order and bribery under Article 300.1 Para 1 and Article 4 Para 2 of the Criminal Code.

Seiran Ohanyan is accused of toppling constitutional order under Article 300.1 Para 1 of the Criminal Code.

Armen Gevorgyan is accused of assisting in toppling constitutional order, bribery and legalization of property gained illegally under Article 38-300.1 Para 1, Article 311 Para 4.2 and Article 190 Para 3.1 of the Criminal Code.

The participants of trial have been informed about the end of the investigation and the latter have been explained their right to familiarize with the materials of the criminal case.


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