Azerbaijan - Global Laundromatit is getting hot...
Posted 26 April 2018 - 03:39 AM
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Posted 26 April 2018 - 09:19 AM
Thanks Gams, I'll post the translated article just in case they remove it after a while!
The Council of Europe accuses the senator of the PP Pedro Agramunt of corruption
The visit to the Syrian president, Bachar el Asad, in March of 2017 was the last straw in a sea of corruption orchestrated by the Spanish Pedro Agramunt. This senator of the Popular Party, former president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, participated for years in a corrupt strategy that conditioned decisions of this European body and reached its zenith with the meeting held in Damascus with the Syrian leader, behind the back of the Council of Europe. The independent investigation commissioned by this body, guardian of democracy and human rights in 47 European countries, has credited on Monday a "strong suspicion" that Agramunt was part of that scheme and that he used it to rise to the presidency .
Strange donations that boosted his candidacy for the presidency of this assembly, watches and liquors offered by political offices in Eastern countries and even suspicions of prostitution populate the report of the independent body of investigation disclosed by the Council of Europe. In almost 200 pages distributed with the organization's letterhead, the text includes the alleged corrupt practices carried out by several members of the assembly, including Agramunt, with the main objective of silencing the Council's criticisms of Azerbaijan. This politician of the Valencian PP, who had to leave the presidency of the Assembly of the Council of Europe after an unusual process of loss of confidence on the part of the institution,He maneuvered to get hold of that dossier and soften European criticisms of a country characterized by the lack of democratic mechanisms and the repression of opponents. He managed to stay ahead of the institution between January 2016 and October 2017.
Based on different studies - including the European Stability Initiative ideas laboratory, which uncovered the so-called caviar diplomacy exercised by the Azeri regime - the document highlights the "links between the success of Agramunt's career and his friendship with Azerbaijan." The authorities of this country provided 200,000 euros to boost his candidacy for the presidency of this body, according to the Freedom Files investigation. Other parliamentarians also received money "for them to run for different positions [in the Parliamentary Assembly] that would allow them to control the resolutions or influence them," he adds. This neighboring country of Russia spent 30 million euros on these pressure activities.
Beyond the suspicions of others, Agramunt himself offered some clue to his usual handling of large amounts of cash before the outbreak of the scandal of the visit to Syria. To distance the focus of that trip, for which Agramunt did not ask for authorization, the senator said that his hotel room in Strasbourg had been raided in the days after the meeting with El Asad. As a sign that what the alleged perpetrators were looking for was data, not money, he alleged that in his room there was "an envelope with 15,000 euros in cash that had not been touched," a witness told investigators. Far from exculpating him, Agramunt's words reinforced suspicions of bribes.
This work considers proven that Agramunt "played a key role in the adoption of several decisions of the Assembly perceived, directly or indirectly, as favorable to Azerbaijan". Even violated the rules of the institution to reveal to the Azeri authorities a confidential report on that country. Next, he "received instructions" about what he should include in those reports for which he was responsible. "There is evidence that Agramunt intervened in draft reports to soften criticism of the Azerbaijani authorities," the researchers point out.
From the beginning, the senator showed interest in getting this dossier. Agramunt himself intervened so that another member of the PP, the Swedish Marietta de Pourbaix-Lundin, desisted from aspiring to be responsible for the supervision reports of Azerbaijan, a member of the Council of Europe since 2001. Finally, he obtained the position. The result was that "the tone and attitude towards the Azerbaijani authorities softened", from the constant criticism leveled in 2005 to the much friendlier attitude of 2010.
Gerald Knaus, president of the European Stability Initiative, welcomes the conclusions, although he suggests that they only reveal part of the corruption. "Only the tip of the iceberg is shown. But given the limitations, it is important and full of details, "says Knaus, who has revealed many of these irregularities.
In his reports on the country, Agramunt avoided condemning one of the most aired aspects of the institution in Strasbourg with respect to the Azeri authorities: the imprisonment of political dissidents. And although he visited them during his stays in Baku, "I never had anything to say to them, something that only happened in Azerbaijan." As an example of good relations with power, the report cites the presence of Agramunt in Baku two days before the official delegation of the parliamentary assembly arrived.Dating with prostitutes
The document refers to testimonies from the secretariat of the Parliamentary Assembly that say Agramunt "could be bribed with prostitutes" while participating in an electoral mission of the Council of Europe sent to Azerbaijan in 2015. One of those witnesses claims to have seen him one day return to your hotel with three young women. There are two other reported cases, with two women and one respectively. The authors of the work believe that the allegations are "not corroborated" and that, even if they met with prostitutes, "there is no evidence that it was part of a corrupt scheme."
A testimony from the same secretariat ensures that on one occasion he saw Agramunt with "a significant amount of cash" in his possession, an indication of having accepted bribes. The text also includes irregularities of the deputy of the PdeCAT Jordi Xuclà and of the exdiputado of the PP Agustín Conde.
With all these details, the research concludes that there is "a strong suspicion that Pedro Agramunt was part of an activity of a corrupt nature." Experts clarify that the Spanish politician has refused to offer his testimony before the investigation committee. The Council of Europe will now decide possible sanctions against the deputies who still make up the assembly.
Posted 27 April 2018 - 11:17 AM
Australian MP Peter Khalil slams Craig Kelly on Sky News: You had your trip paid by the Azerbaijani government
CANBERRA: Members of the Federal Parliament, Peter Khalil and Craig Kelly have clashed live on Sky News Australia, with the Member for Wills slamming the Member for Hughes for "talking down Australia's democracy in comparison to Azerbaijan's" after he labelled the recent presidential elections in the petro-dictatorship as "democratic" following a state-sponsored trip.
The elections Kelly observed, leading a delegation of Federal MPs in his role as Chair of the Australia - Azerbaijan Friendship Group, saw dictator Ilham Aliyev re-elected for a record 7-year term in office after recent changed to the Constitution supporting an extension to his rule. Incidentally, Kelly also observed the referendum changing these laws, before returning to Australia to say "we have a lot to learn from Azerbaijan's democracy".
Khalil laid into Kelly live on Sky News after highlighting that Azerbaijan's electoral commission released the result of the previous presidential elections in that country "a day before the actual election".
"You've got a despot who specialises in nepotism who hired his wife as Vice-President, and you're telling us that we've got something to learn from them," Khalil said. "That's just utterly ridiculous."
He continued: "You had your trip paid by the Azerbaijani government, I get it. But do not talk down Australia's democracy. We have an independent Australian Electoral Commission, we have one of the most thorough and rigid processes in one of the best, democratic systems in the world."
Kelly did concede, as he had in a Sydney Morning Herald article exposing his comments, that Azerbaijan has "had the same family ruling there as President - father and son - since the Soviet occupation ended", but he still referred to the country as "a fledgling democracy".
Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU) Executive Director, Haig Kayserian commented: "We thank Mr. Khalil for once again bringing Mr. Kelly's questionable loyalty to a regime that gives any dictatorship a run for its money when it comes to press and individual freedoms, has been declared as 'not free' by Freedom House, and regularly breaks an internationally-brokered ceasefire to fire across the Line of Contact, murdering Armenians on the border of the Republic of Artsakh."
In response to Kelly's consistent assertions that voter identification laws in Azerbaijan supercede the transparecy of Australia's electoral commission, Kayserian said: "Even in cases of voter fraud, Australia's due processes have revealed parties at fault and brought them to justice. In Azerbaijan, European observers have cited the lack of opposition and any comparable checks and balances."
Kayserian added: "We welcome Mr. Kelly has at least now admitted that Aliyev's Azerbaijan has had one surname leading it for as long as it has been independent, but to still refer to it as a democracy is as basketcase as the 'democracy' he is referring to."
ANC-AU, which has been at the forefront of bringing this saga to public attention, has requested to meet with Craig Kelly.
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