Hetq: Pashinyan secretly orders doubling of salaries for ministers
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan ordered in July the doubling of salaries paid to ministers, deputy ministers and chief secretaries of ministries. The government kept the order a secret.
To verify the information Hetq received about the secret order, we wrote to three ministries.
It received May-August data on the number of employees and the salary fund.
In the case of one ministry, there was a substantial difference in the salaries of the same number of employees. We sent an additional inquiry to the three ministers asking how much the minister had received in terms of salary, bonuses, and other salaries.
For example, Emergency Affairs Minister Felix Tsolakyan received a salary of 6 million drams in May, June, July, and August, as was the case with Environment Minister Eric Grigoryan. If we divide the salary by 4 months, we get 1.5 million drams a month.
We had sent a similar inquiry to the Minister of Finance Atom Janjughazyan. The secretary-general of the ministry did not provide us with information about Janjughazyan’s salary. Instead, he suggested waiting for the annual disclosure.
The amount of salary of public officials in Armenia is defined by law.
According to the RA Law on Remuneration of Public Officials, a minister’s salary coefficient is 12. In order to receive a minister’s salary, this number must be multiplied by the base salary of 66,140 drams. The sum is AMD 793,680, which includes taxes. Meanwhile, without making any changes to the law, the secretary’s order doubled, amounting to 1.5 million drams, according to the prime minister’s secret order.
The same is the case with the salaries of deputy ministers and chief secretaries.
According to the coefficient stipulated by law, the salary of a deputy minister is 562,160 drams, which became 1.060 million drams. The salary of a chief secretary has increased from 595,260 thousand drams to 870,000 drams.
When we understood what had happened, we asked PM Nikol Pashinyan in writing asking why the process had been carried out in secret.
Here is the response of Armen Khachatryan, Acting Head of the Information and Public Relations Department of the Prime Minister’s Office:
“The issue you raised was, as you have mentioned, carried out by secret procedure, so such information is not subject to disclosure. It is important for us to note that the officials you cite submit a declaration of property, income, and interests, which implies that the above process is entirely public and transparent.”
Pashinyan made his first visit Sunday to Los Angeles, the largest Armenian population center outside the Republic of Armenia.
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Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of Armenia, address the audience during a rally at Los Angeles City Hall/Grand Park in Los Angeles on Sunday, Sep 22, 2019. (Photo by Ed Crisostomo, Contributing Photographer)
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan addressed some 10,000 people from the steps of City Hall on Sunday, Sept. 22, in a rally marking his first visit to Los Angeles, the largest Armenian population center outside the Republic of Armenia.
Pashinyan was appointed to his post after leading a wave of anti-government protests between March and May of 2018 that led to the resignation of former Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan — and has been widely hailed as a harbinger of democracy by championing free elections and government transparency.
“We have created a new image for Armenia,” said Pashinyan after lauding the warm California welcome in Armenian, the diaspora crowd chanting his name.
“We have developed a new slogan: It’s cool to be Armenian,” he said. “And together we have to make it even better, because the Armenian people is one of a great history and past. And our country has a bright future.”
North Hollywood councilmember Paul Krekorian, who became the first Armenian elected to city office in 2010, played a leading role in organizing the rally. Burbank Rep. Adam Schiff also addressed the crowd, calling LA the “capitol of the Armenian diaspora.”
LA Mayor Eric Garcetti praised Pashinyan’s leadership, saying “A day of sunshine has come to Armenia, a day of openness, of democracy. The day has come to invest and support and help the new Armenia rise, and rise and rise under this prime minister.”
Thousands are starting to pour into Grand Park from Glendale, Pasadena and the SFV for a visit today by Armenian Prime Minister @NikolPashinyan. It’s his first stop in LA, the largest Armenian population center outside Armenia, since getting elected last year
The bulk of attendees, clapping and dancing along to traditional music and dance performances on the steps of City Hall, came in predominately from such Armenian community population centers as Glendale, Burbank, Pasadena and the San Fernando Valley. Buses to downtown LA were made available to the communities.
While estimations of the Armenian population in Greater LA vary, the 2000 census reported over 150,000 Armenians in LA County with some 40,000 living in the San Fernando Valley.
“We’re here to honor and welcome him, for having led the revolution and cleaning up corruption,” said Hrair Koutnouyan of Glendale, who came to see Pashinyan with his wife. “A government that’s without stealing and cheating isn’t something that’s easily accepted, but he’s proving it can be done.”
Some, like 24-year-old Ani Dergrigorian of Glendale, who has lived in Armenia, is “optimistic” about Pashinyan’s leadership but hopes to hold him to account on issues facing every day Armenians. She and her sister, Areni, brought signs that demanded an end to environmentally harmful mining practices in the nation’s Almusar region.
“Maybe we don’t feel the impacts as much here, but it’s more important than ever for us to be engaged in politics in Armenia,” she said. “We’re all facing climate change on the same planet. At the end of the day it impacts us too.”
Monterey Park doctor Jack Der-Sarkissian said he was moved by the “optimism and enthusiasm” in Armenia following the Pashinyan-led protests, what he and his supporters call the “Velvet Revolution.” He’s listening for proof that the leader will be the steward of democracy he said he would.
“A lot of people in Los Angeles will financially invest in their families and Armenia needs it,” he said. “At the end of the day he needs to convince people like myself that it’s the right time to invest in Armenia. He has a lot of work ahead of him.”
YEREVAN (UrduPoint News / Sputnik – 20th May, 2019) Protesters in Armenia are blocking entrances to court buildings across the country on Monday following Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s calls for action after a court ruled to free former Armenian President Robert Kocharyan, a Sputnik correspondent reported.
A court in Yerevan ruled on Saturday to release Kocharyan under guarantees of the former and incumbent presidents of the non-recognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. The next day, Pashinyan, on his Facebook page, called for blocking court buildings’ entrances on Monday morning in protest of the ruling.
Protests are taking place in Armenia’s capital of Yerevan along with other regions, with protesters publishing photos and videos on social media.
Armenian President Armen Sarkissian urged the nation to show restraint and respect the constitution in light of Pashinyan’s calls, while the lawyers’ chamber said that the prime minister’s appeals violated the constitution.
Kocharyan, who served as president from 1998 to 2008, was charged with attempts to overthrow Armenia’s constitutional order by suppressing opposition protests in March 2008. He has denounced the accusations as fabricated.
The protests were held by supporters of then-presidential candidate Levon Ter-Petrosyan, who rejected the results of the February 2008 election, won by Kocharyan’s ally Serzh Sargsyan. The rallies led to clashes between the protesters and police who dispersed demonstrators. Pashinyan, in turn, was on Ter-Petrosyan’s campaign team and took part in the rallies.
“The new Armenian authorities are afraid of what Robert Kocharyan intended to say,” said his representative after the press conference was cancelled
“Murderer!” and “He has no place in Armenia” screamed dozens of activists who arrived at former Armenian President Robert Kocharyan’s press conference on 14 August, the day after his release.
Kocharyan was remanded into custodyon 28 July on charges of breaching constitutional order and his involvement in the deaths of ten people during the 2008 protests while president of Armenia. However, he was freed from custody after the Court of Appeals ruled that his remandment was illegal. Kocharyan’s lawyer Ruben Sahakyan told reporters that his release was based on a provision in the constitution which grants a former president immunity.
The activists were mainly students who participated in Armenia’s recent ‘velvet revolution’, as a result of which the country saw a peaceful change in power. They told journalists who were expecting the appearance of the former president that they intended to disrupt his press conference.
As a result, Robert Kocharyan’s security officers left the hall, and it soon became apparent that he had left the business centre where the appearance was scheduled
Robert Kocharyan was the President of Armenia from 1998 to 2008. He was arrested in connection with the events that took place on 1 and 2 March, 2008: following the presidential elections on 18 February 2008, political bloc supporters headed by the first president of Armenia, Levon Ter-Petrosyan, demanded an investigation into the election results, claiming Levon Ter-Petrosyan won the election instead of Kocharyan. Thousands of protesters occupied the central square in Yerevan, taking part in round-the-clock demonstrations until 1 March.
On 1 March, military-grade weapons were used to disperse the crowds. Eight civilians and two police officers were killed in the process. Kocharyan was still president of the country at the time. According to data from the Central Electoral Commission, President Serzh Sargsyan was elected. However, he had not yet taken office.
Victor Soghomonyan, the head of the former president’s office, accused the new Armenian authorities of disrupting the press conference.
“As you have seen, the authorities are afraid of what Robert Kocharyan intended to say. That’s why they directed their activists to disrupt the conference,” Soghomonyan told reporters.
Robert Kocharyan previously said that he considers the case against him to be politically motivated.
Kocharyan’s representatives are expected to make a statement at a later time.
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. PLEASE HANDLE ACCORDINGLY.
1. (U) Oligarchs and thugs have taken to settling scores on the street in greater numbers in the last few months, and high-profile assassinations and murder attempts are on the rise in Armenia. Though the crimes do not appear to be related, and in most cases the motives are unclear, the increase in violence may indicate a new trend in domestic politics. END SUMMARY.
BUSINESSMAN FOUND BEHEADED IN A CAR
2. (U) On September 30, 2006, the beheaded body of businessman Artur Khalatian was discovered in a car parked in a garage in the village of Zar. Khalatian was one of the heads of the “Avia-Service” company, which belongs to oligarch Gagik Tsarukian, the founder of the new Prosperous Armenia political party. According to local press reports, police said Khalatian was killed by Robert Sargsian, a man who said he wanted to buy Khalatian’s Yerevan apartment. The police told the press that Khalatian went to Sargsian’s village to collect the USD 140,000 payment for the apartment. According to police, Sargsian and two friends killed Khalatian and hid the body in the trunk of his car, where Sargsian’s family found it. Police have arrested one suspect, Tatoul Mirzoyan, but Sargsian and his cousin Henrik Hovnikian are still wanted.
NK VETERANS’ UNION MEMBER SHOT DEAD IN DRIVE-BY ATTACK
3. (SBU) Sedrak Zatikian, an influential Yerkrapah (NK war veterans’ political movement) leader was shot dead in broad daylight while driving his car in late June. A bystander was also killed in the crossfire. Despite his youth, the 26-year-old Zatikian was wealthy, relatively powerful and notorious. He headed a suburban Yerevan chapter of Yerkrapah (literally “Defenders of the Land”) and earned his infamy for assaulting the nephew of powerful parliamentary deputy Hakob Hakobian in 2004. Zatikian managed to avoid prosecution by hiding from police for several months and then making peace with Hakobian’s clan. Another of Hakobian’s nephews was arrested in connection with Zatikian’s death but was charged only with illegal arms possession. 4. (U) Zatikian’s funeral was a mafia-style affair, and mourners’ cars crowded the streets of Noy, an affluent subdivision that is also home to many Embassy families. Streets surrounding the area were blocked for hours.
FORMER INTERIOR MINISTER BLAMES PM FOR ATTACK
5. (U) Opposition politician Suren Abrahamian, a former interior minister and mayor of Yerevan, was reportedly attacked near his house by unidentified men on October 8, sustaining minor injuries. Abrahamian’s Republic Party fingered Prime Minister Andranik Markarian in what they called “an act of political intimidation” by the government. Markarian denied any involvement. Abrahamian, who is a vocal detractor of the Armenian government in general and presidential front-runner Defense Minister Serzh Sargsian in particular, recently had criticized the prime minister publicly, calling him a “criminal element.” Abrahamian told the press that one of his assailants demanded he apologize for his statements but did not specify which statements, nor to whom he should apologize. “Whether or not he ordered the attack, Prime Minister Andranik Markarian is responsible for what happened,” Abrahamian told a news conference.
POLICE CHIEF SHOT IN HIS GARAGE
6. (U) Police General Aram Zakarian, the chief of the special protection department of the National Police, was wounded after being attacked October 4 in his garage by an armed man.
FINANCE MINISTER UNSURE WHETHER HE WAS SHOT AT
– 7. According to the local press, Finance Minister Vardan Khachatrian reported to police that someone shot at him on October 2 while he YEREVAN 00001457 002 OF 002 sat in a cafe with friends. Police reportedly interrogated everyone who was at the caf while the minister was there, but nobody corroborated his report. Khachatrian then said he had been drunk while at the caf, and that there had not been a shooting. However, the following day, the minister said there had in fact been a shooting. The Prosecutor General’s office told us the shooting had taken place, but that it was not aimed at the minister, and that Khachatrian had fulfilled his “civic duty” by reporting the case to the police. (NOTE: This case is still a mystery; we saw one article on it October 5, and then it disappeared from the news. END NOTE.)
8. Though these incidents, together with the car-bomb death of a senior tax inspector (reftel), indicate a trend, there is no clear link between them. What is clear is that the perpetrators of these crimes are brazen and have committed several of them in broad daylight. Almost all of the victims and assailants in these incidents have reputations for criminal activity. It’s possible their undercover maneuverings have begun to morph into public clashes, in which case we may reasonable expect more to come as the parliamentary elections approach. GODFREY
Yerevan (AFP) – Armenia’s President Serzh Sarkisian has urged international powers to step up pressure on Azerbaijan to avoid all-out war over the disputed Nagorny Karabakh region, accusing his nation’s arch-foe of military “blackmail”.
“The danger of a new war is constant and will persist until Azerbaijan is persuaded that there is no military solution to the conflict,” Sarkisian told AFP in an interview ahead of a visit to France.
Fears that the decades-long Nagorny Karabakh dispute could escalate have risen since sporadic firing across the volatile frontline surged last April into the worst violence since a 1994 truce.
A ceasefire brokered by Moscow stilled several days of bloodshed but long-standing mediators from Russia, the United States, and France have since struggled to restart a stalled peace process.
Sarkisian — who will meet French President Francois Hollande in Paris on Wednesday — accused his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev of sabotaging any progress by threatening to start fighting unless he gets his way.
“He said Azerbaijan will not start a war if Armenia fulfills its demands. I said that this is blackmail, not a compromise,” the Armenian leader said.
Sarkisian urged Paris, Moscow, and Washington to “show what price one of the sides will pay if it initiates an attack.”
“That will have a sobering effect,” he said.
– ‘A matter of time’ –
Baku and Yerevan have feuded over the Nagorny Karabakh region since Armenian separatists seized the territory from Azerbaijan in a war that claimed some 30,000 lives in the early 1990s.
Energy-rich Azerbaijan, whose military spending exceeds Armenia’s entire state budget, has repeatedly threatened to take back the breakaway region by force but Moscow-allied Armenia has vowed to crush any military offensive.
The war ended in a fragile 1994 truce but the two sides never signed a firm peace deal and Sarkisian warned that fears of a new surge in fighting are growing.
“Public opinion in Armenia is that the resumption of hostilities is a matter of time — maybe weeks or months — and the commander-in-chief and defense minister must be prepared that a war could start tomorrow,” Sarkisian said.
“I don’t think a fresh war is an immediate threat, but nothing is ruled out when one deals with an unpredictable neighbor.”
– Regional titans –
Any new war in Karabakh could pitch regional titans Russia and Turkey against each other in the Caucasus region that has historically been an arena of their geopolitical rivalry.
Sarkisian also took aim at Armenia’s longstanding foe Turkey, blasting Ankara’s support for its traditional ally Baku over the Karabakh conflict.
There are no diplomatic ties between Yerevan and Ankara, which in 1993 sealed its border with Armenia out of support for Turkic-speaking Azerbaijan.
Turkey has also been angered by Yerevan’s campaign to have the World War I-era mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire recognized as genocide.
“At this point, the process of normalization (with Turkey) is at an impasse,” Sarkisian said. “They link normalization with the Karabakh issue.”
Stressing that international pressure and military parity between Yerevan and Baku have so far helped to avoid a new war, Sarkisian also expressed concern over Russia supplying sophisticated weapons to Azerbaijan worth billions of dollars.
“We take it painfully because Russia is our strategic partner.”
Moscow has sold weapons to both of the former Soviet nations but has a military alliance with Armenia.
Move follows standoff in capital Yerevan between police and armed men, and could pave way for a coalition government
Hovik Abrahamyan said he was stepping down as prime minister to ‘give a chance’ to a new government, following recent protests. Photograph: CTK/Alamy
The prime minister of Armenia has announced his resignation following weeks of civil unrest and a sharp economic downturn.
Hovik Abrahamyan told a cabinet meeting on Thursday that the country needs “new approaches and a new beginning,” and his departure should lead the way towards a coalition government.
Last month, Armenia’s president, Serzh Sargsyan, promised to create a government of national accord after a two-week standoff at a police compound in the capital, Yerevan, which left two police officers dead and shook the nation.
Several dozen armed men stormed the building and demanded the release of Zhirair Sefilyan, the leader of the New Armenia Public Salvation Front opposition group, who was arrested in June on suspicion of preparing to seize government buildings and telecoms facilities in Yerevan.
In recent months, there has been a flare-up of violence in Azerbaijan’s breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region. Karabakh is technically part of Azerbaijan, but it has been run by an ethnic Armenian government since the collapse of the Soviet Union. In April, the worst clashes since a 1994 ceasefire broke out between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
In comments reported by Russian news agencies, Abrahamyan said he was stepping down in order to “give a chance to a new government,” which would offer “new approaches in order to consolidate society”.
However, it was not clear from his statement who would lead the government.
Political analysts in Armenia have named the former mayor of Yerevan Karen Karapetyan, a top executive at Russian gas company Gazprom, as the likeliest successor to Abrahamyan.
Armenian opposition group takes hostages in Yerevan police building
Sunday 17 Jul 2016
Police officer is killed as armed group with links to jailed politician seizes building and demands president’s resignation
An armed group with links to a jailed opposition leader has seized a police building in Armenia, killing one officer, taking hostages and demanding that the country’s president resign.
One of the gunmen said on social media that among that taken hostage in the capital, Yerevan, on Sunday was the country’s deputy police chief.
“A group of armed men entered the premises of a police regiment in Yerevan and is holding hostages under the threat of violence,” Armenia’s National Security Service said in a statement. “One policeman was killed and two others wounded. Two of the hostages were freed.”
Nikol Pashinyan, a member of Armenia’s parliament who met the hostage-takers, said the group had taken eight police officers hostage but later released one who was suffering from high blood pressure.
“The Armenian state continues to operate normally. Police carry out their duties to protect public order and security,” the security service said, dismissing rumors on social networks that a coup was under way.
Media reports said the group was demanding the release of Zhirair Sefilyan, an opposition politician who was arrested last month for alleged firearms offenses.
“We demand the release of Zhirair Sefilyan. We will only obey his orders. Sarkisian must resign,” one of the group members, Varuzhan Avetisyan, wrote on Facebook, referring to the Armenian president, Serzh Sargsyan.
He said that two senior police officers, Armenia’s deputy police chief, Gen Maj Vardan Egiazaryan, and Yerevan’s deputy police chief, Col Valeri Osipyan, were being held hostage.
One of the gunmen, named as Tatul Tamrazyan, was seriously wounded, Avetisyan wrote.
Sefilyan, the leader of a small opposition group, the New Armenia Public Salvation Front, and six of his supporters were arrested in June after authorities claimed they were preparing a plot to seize several government buildings and telecommunications facilities in Yerevan.
A fierce government critic, Sefilyan was arrested in 2006 over calls for “a violent overthrow of the government” and was jailed for 18 months. He was released in 2008.
Last year, Sefilyan and several of his supporters were arrested again on suspicion of preparing a coup but were released shortly afterwards.
A former military officer, Sargsyan has been president of Armenia since winning a vote in 2008 that was followed by violent clashes between police and supporters of the defeated opposition candidate in which 10 people died.
The UK’s EU referendum: All you need to know / EU referendum: Jeremy Corbyn under pressure amid top team revolt
By Brian Wheeler & Alex HuntBBC News
This article is designed to be an easy-to-understand guide now that the UK has voted to leave the European Union.
What has happened?
A referendum – a vote in which everyone (or nearly everyone) of voting age can take part – was held on Thursday 23 June, to decide whether the UK should leave or remain in the European Union.
Leave won by 52% to 48%.
The referendum turnout was 71.8%, with more than 30 million people voting. It was the highest turnout in a UK-wide vote since the 1992 general election.
What was the breakdown across the UK?
England voted strongly for Brexit, by 53.4% to 46.6%, as did Wales, with Leave getting 52.5% of the vote and Remain 47.5%.
Scotland and Northern Ireland both backed staying in the EU. Scotland backed Remain by 62% to 38%, while 55.8% in Northern Ireland voted Remain and 44.2% Leave.
What is the European Union?
The European Union – often known as the EU – is an economic and political partnership involving 28 European countries (click here if you want to see the full list). It began after World War Two to foster economic co-operation, with the idea that countries which trade together are more likely to avoid going to war with each other.
It has since grown to become a “single market” allowing goods and people to move around, basically as if the member states were one country.
It has its own currency, the euro, which is used by 19 of the member countries, its own parliament and it now sets rules in a wide range of areas – including on the environment, transport, consumer rights and even things such as mobile phone charges. Click here for a beginners’ guide to how the EU works
What does Brexit mean?
It is a word that has become used as a shorthand way of saying the UK leaving the EU – merging the words Britain and exit to get Brexit, in a same way as a Greek exit from the EU was dubbed Grexit in the past.
Cameron or his successor needs to decide when to invoke this – that will then set in motion the formal legal process of withdrawing from the EU, and give the UK two years to negotiate its withdrawal.
The article has only been in force since late 2009 and it hasn’t been tested yet, so no-one really knows how the Brexit process will work, according to BBC legal correspondent Clive Coleman.
Mr Cameron, who has said he would be stepping down as PM by October, said he will go to the European Council next week to “explain the decision the British people have taken”.
EU law still stands in the UK until it ceases being a member – and that process could take some time.
The UK will continue to abide by EU treaties and laws, but not take part in any decision-making, as it negotiates a withdrawal agreement and the terms of its relationship with the now 27 nation bloc.
What happens to UK citizens working in the EU?
A lot depends on the kind of deal the UK agrees with the EU after exit.
If it remains within the single market, it would almost certainly retain free movement rights, allowing UK citizens to work in the EU and vice versa.
If the government opted to impose work permit restrictions, as UKIP wants, then other countries could reciprocate, meaning Britons would have to apply for visas to work.
Will I need a visa to travel to the EU?
While there could be limitations on British nationals’ ability to live and work in EU countries, it seems unlikely they would want to deter tourists. There are many countries outside the EEA that British citizens can visit for up to 90 days without needing a visa and it is possible that such arrangements could be negotiated with European countries.
What about EU nationals who want to work in the UK?
Again, it depends on whether the UK government decides to introduce a work permit system of the kind that currently applies to non-EU citizens, limiting entry to skilled workers in professions where there are shortages.
Citizens’ Advice has reminded people their rights have not changed yet and asked anyone to contact them if they think they have been discriminated against following the Leave vote.
Will I still be able to use my passport?
Yes. It is a British document – there is no such thing as an EU passport, so your passport will stay the same. In theory, the government could, if it wanted, decide to change the colour, which is currently standardised for EU countries, says the BBC’s Europe correspondent, Chris Morris.
Some say we could still remain in the single market – but what is a single market?
The single market is seen by its advocates as the EU’s biggest achievement and one of the main reasons it was set up in the first place.
Britain was a member of a free trade area in Europe before it joined what was then known as the common market. In a free trade area countries can trade with each other without paying tariffs – but it is not a single market because the member states do not have to merge their economies together.
The European Union single market, which was completed in 1992, allows the free movement of goods, services, money and people within the European Union, as if it was a single country.
It is possible to set up a business or take a job anywhere within it. The idea was to boost trade, create jobs and lower prices. But it requires common law-making to ensure products are made to the same technical standards and imposes other rules to ensure a “level playing field”.
Critics say it generates too many petty regulations and robs members of control over their own affairs. Mass migration from poorer to richer countries has also raised questions about the free movement rule. Read more: A free trade area v EU single market
But Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers has ruled out the call from Sinn Féin for a border poll, saying the circumstances in which one would be called did not exist.
What will happen to the Conservative leadership?
David Cameron has said a new prime minister should be in place by the beginning of the Conservative party conference on 2 October.
Nominations for a replacement leader will come from Conservative members of the House of Commons.
If one nomination is received, the new leader is declared elected. If two nominations are made, both names go forward for the members of the party across the UK to vote on by post.
In the event that three or more MPs are nominated for leader, a ballot of Conservative MPs is held “on the Tuesday immediately following the closing date for nominations”.
How will pensions, savings, investments and mortgages be affected?
During the referendum campaign, the prime minister said the so-called “triple lock” for state pensions would be threatened by a UK exit. This is the agreement by which pensions increase by at least the level of earnings, inflation or 2.5% every year – whichever is the highest.
If economic performance deteriorates, the Bank of England could decide on a further programme of quantitative easing, as an alternative to cutting interest rates, which would lower bond yields and with them annuity rates. So anyone taking out a pension annuity could get less income for their money.
The Bank of England may consider raising interest rates to combat extra pressure on inflation. That would make mortgages and loans more expensive to repay but would be good news for savers.
The Treasury previously forecast a rise of between 0.7% and 1.1% in mortgage borrowing costs, with the prime minister claiming the average cost of a mortgage could increase by up to £1,000 a year.
The Treasury argued during the referendum campaign that UK shares would become less attractive to foreign investors in the event of Brexit and would therefore decline in value, but in the longer term shares typically rise with company profits. Big exporters might benefit from the weaker pound, so the value of their shares might well rise, while importers might see profits squeezed.
Will duty-free sales on Europe journeys return?
Journalists and writers on social media have greeted the reintroduction of duty-free sales as an “upside” or “silver lining” of Brexit.
As with most Brexit consequences, whether this will happen depends on how negotiations with the EU play out – whether the “customs union” agreement between Britain and the EU is ended or continued.
Eurotunnel boss Jacques Gounon said last November the reintroduction of duty-free would be “an incredible boost for my business” but he later said that remark had been “light-hearted”.
Erik Juul-Mortensen, president of the Tax Free World Association (TFWA) said after the referendum vote “it is not possible to predict how Brexit will affect the duty free and travel retail industry, and it is wiser not to make assumptions about exactly what the impact will be.”
Will our EHIC cards still be valid?
No-one knows for definite. The EHIC card – which entitles travellers to state-provided medical help for any condition or injury that requires urgent treatment, in any other country within the EU, as well as several non-EU countries – is not an EU initiative. It was negotiated between countries within a group known as the European Economic Area, often simply referred to as the single market (plus Switzerland, which confusingly is not a member of the EEA, but has agreed access to the single market). Therefore, the future of Britons’ EHIC cover could depend on whether the UK decided to sever ties with the EEA.
Will cars need new number plates?
Probably not, says BBC Europe correspondent Chris Morris, because there’s no EU-wide law on vehicle registration or car number places, and the EU flag symbol is a voluntary identifier and not compulsory. The DVLA says there has been no discussion about what would happen to plates with the flag if the UK voted to leave.
Could MPs block an EU exit?
Could the necessary legislation pass the Commons, given that a lot of MPs – all SNP and Lib Dems, nearly all Labour and many Conservatives – were in favour of staying?
The referendum result is not legally binding – Parliament still has to pass the laws that will get Britain out of the 28 nation bloc, starting with the repeal of the 1972 European Communities Act.
In practice, Conservative MPs who voted to remain in the EU would be whipped to vote with the government. Any who defied the whip would have to face the wrath of voters at the next general election.
One scenario that could see the referendum result overturned, is if MPs forced a general election and a party campaigned on a promise to keep Britain in the EU, got elected and then claimed that the election mandate topped the referendum one.
Two-thirds of MPs would have to vote for a general election to be held before the next scheduled one in 2020.
Will leaving the EU mean we don’t have to abide by the European Court of Human Rights?
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg is not a European Union institution.
It was set up by the Council of Europe, which has 47 members including Russia and Ukraine. So quitting the EU will not exempt the UK from its decisions.
However, the UK government is committed to repealing the Human Rights Act which requires UK courts to treat the ECHR as setting legal precedents for the UK, in favour of a British Bill of Rights.
As part of that, David Cameron is expected to announce measures that will boost the powers of courts in England and Wales to over-rule judgements handed down by the ECHR.
However, the EU has its own European Court of Justice, whose decisions are binding on EU institutions and member states.
Will the UK be able to rejoin the EU in the future?
BBC Europe editor Katya Adler says the UK would have to start from scratch with no rebate, and enter accession talks with the EU.
Every member state would have to agree to the UK re-joining. But she says with elections looming elsewhere in Europe, other leaders might not be generous towards any UK demands.
New members are required to adopt the euro as their currency, once they meet the relevant criteria, although the UK could try to negotiate an opt-out.
Who wanted the UK to leave the EU?
The UK Independence Party, which won the last European elections, and received nearly four million votes – 13% of those cast – in May’s general election, campaigned for Britain’s exit from the EU.
About half of Conservative MPs, including five cabinet ministers, several Labour MPs and the DUP were also in favour of leaving.
What were their reasons for wanting the UK to leave?
They said Britain was being held back by the EU, which they said imposed too many rules on business and charged billions of pounds a year in membership fees for little in return. They also wanted Britain to take back full control of its borders and reduce the number of people coming here to live and/or work.
One of the main principles of EU membership is “free movement”, which means you don’t need to get a visa to go and live in another EU country. The Leave campaign also objected to the idea of “ever closer union” and what they see as moves towards the creation of a “United States of Europe”.
Who wanted the UK to stay in the EU?
Prime Minister David Cameron wanted Britain to stay in the EU. He sought an agreement with other European Union leaders to change the terms of Britain’s membership.
He said the deal would give Britain “special” status and help sort out some of the things British people said they didn’t like about the EU, like high levels of immigration – but critics said the deal would make little difference.
Sixteen members of the PM’s cabinet also backed staying in. The Conservative Party pledged to be neutral in the campaign – but the Labour Party, SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Lib Dems were all in favour of staying in.
US president Barack Obama also wanted Britain to remain in the EU, as did other EU nations such as France and Germany.
What were their reasons for wanting the UK to stay?
Those campaigning for Britain to stay in the EU said it gets a big boost from membership – it makes selling things to other EU countries easier and, they argued, the flow of immigrants, most of whom are young and keen to work, fuels economic growth and helps pay for public services.
They also said Britain’s status in the world would be damaged by leaving and that we are more secure as part of the 28 nation club, rather than going it alone.
What about businesses?
Big business – with a few exceptions – tended to be in favour of Britain staying in the EU because it makes it easier for them to move money, people and products around the world.
BT chairman Sir Mike Rake, a recent CBI president, said there were “no credible alternatives” to staying in the EU. But others disagreed, such as Lord Bamford, chairman of JCB, who said an EU exit would allow the UK to negotiate trade deals as our country “rather than being one of 28 nations”.
Morgan Stanley sources told BBC business reporter Joe Lynam that it had started the process of moving about 2,000 staff based in London to either Dublin or Frankfurt. Ahead of the vote, the president of the investment bank, Colm Kelleher, told Bloomsberg that Brexit would be “the most consequential thing that we’ve ever seen since the war”.
Who led the rival sides in the campaign?
Britain Stronger in Europe – the main cross-party group campaigning for Britain to remain in the EU was headed by former Marks and Spencer chairman Lord Rose. It was backed by key figures from the Conservative Party, including Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne, most Labour MPs, including party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Alan Johnson, who ran the Labour In for Britain campaign, the Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru, the Alliance party and the SDLP in Northern Ireland, and the Green Party. Who funded the campaign: Britain Stronger in Europe raised £6.88m, boosted by two donations totalling £2.3m from the supermarket magnate and Labour peer Lord Sainsbury. Other prominent Remain donors included hedge fund manager David Harding (£750,000), businessman and Travelex founder Lloyd Dorfman (£500,000) and the Tower Limited Partnership (£500,000). Read a Who’s Who guide. Who else campaigned to remain: The SNP ran its own remain campaign in Scotland as it did not want to share a platform with the Conservatives. Several smaller groups also registered to campaign.
Vote Leave – A cross-party campaign that has the backing of senior Conservatives such as Michael Gove and Boris Johnson plus a handful of Labour MPs, including Gisela Stuart and Graham Stringer, and UKIP’s Douglas Carswell and Suzanne Evans, and the DUP in Northern Ireland. Former Tory chancellor Lord Lawson and SDP founder Lord Owen were also involved. It had a string of affiliated groups such as Farmers for Britain, Muslims for Britain and Out and Proud, a gay anti-EU group, aimed at building support in different communities. Who funded the campaign: Vote Leave raised £2.78m. Its largest supporter was businessman Patrick Barbour, who gave £500,000. Former Conservative Party treasurer Peter Cruddas gave a £350,000 donation and construction mogul Terence Adams handed over £300,000. Read a Who’s Who guide. Who else campaigned to leave: UKIP leader Nigel Farage is not part of Vote Leave. His party ran its own campaign. The Trade Union and Socialist Coalition is also running its own out campaign. Several smaller groups also registered to campaign.
Will the EU still use English?
Yes, says BBC Europe editor Katya Adler. There will still be 27 other EU states in the bloc, and others wanting to join in the future, and the common language tends to be English – “much to France’s chagrin”, she says.
Will a Brexit harm product safety?
Probably not, is the answer. It would depend on whether or not the UK decided to get rid of current safety standards. Even if that happened any company wanting to export to the EU would have to comply with its safety rules, and it’s hard to imagine a company would want to produce two batches of the same products.
Thanks for sending in your questions. Here are a selection of them, and our answers:
How much does the UK contribute to the EU and how much do we get in return?
In answer to this query from Nancy from Hornchurch – the UK is one of 10 member states who pay more into the EU budget than they get out, only France and Germany contribute more. In 2014/15, Poland was the largest beneficiary, followed by Hungary and Greece.
The UK also gets an annual rebate that was negotiated by Margaret Thatcher and money back, in the form of regional development grants and payments to farmers, which added up to £4.6bn in 2014/15. According to the latest Treasury figures, the UK’s net contribution for 2014/15 was £8.8bn – nearly double what it was in 2009/10.
The National Audit Office, using a different formula which takes into account EU money paid directly to private sector companies and universities to fund research, and measured over the EU’s financial year, shows the UK’s net contribution for 2014 was £5.7bn. Read more number crunching from Reality Check.
If I retire to Spain or another EU country will my healthcare costs still be covered?
David, from East Sussex, is worried about what will happen to his retirement plans. This is one of those issues where it is not possible to say definitively what would happen. At the moment, the large British expat community in Spain gets free access to Spanish GPs and their hospital treatment is paid for by the NHS. After they become permanent residents Spain pays for their hospital treatment. Similar arrangements are in place with other EU countries.
If Britain remains in the single market, or the European Economic Area as it is known, it might be able to continue with this arrangement, according to a House of Commons library research note. If Britain has to negotiate trade deals with individual member states, it may opt to continue paying for expats’ healthcare through the NHS or decide that they would have to cover their own costs if they continue to live abroad, if the country where they live declines to do so.
What will happen to protected species?
Dee, from Launceston, wanted to know what would happen to EU laws covering protected species such as bats in the event of Britain leaving the EU. The answer is that they would remain in place, initially at least. After the Leave vote, the government will probably review all EU-derived laws in the two years leading up to the official exit date to see which ones to keep or scrap.
The status of Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas, which are designated by the EU, would be reviewed to see what alternative protections could be applied. The same process would apply to European Protected Species legislation, which relate to bats and their habitats.
The government would want to avoid a legislative vacuum caused by the repeal of EU laws before new UK laws are in place – it would also continue to abide by other international agreements covering environmental protection.
How much money will the UK save through changes to migrant child benefits and welfare payments?
Martin, from Poole, in Dorset, wanted to know what taxpayers are likely to get back from the benefit curbs negotiated by David Cameron in Brussels. We don’t exactly know because the details have not been worked out. HM Revenue and Customs have suggested about 20,000 EU nationals receive child benefit payments in respect of 34,000 children in their country of origin at an estimated cost of about £30m.
But the total saving is likely to be significantly less than that because Mr Cameron did not get the blanket ban he wanted. Instead, payments will be linked to the cost of living in the countries where the children live. David Cameron has said that as many as 40% of EU migrant families who come to Britain could lose an average of £6,000 a year of in-work benefits when his “emergency brake” is applied. The DWP estimates between 128,700 and 155,100 people would be affected. But the cuts will be phased in. New arrivals will not get tax credits and other in-work benefits straight away but will gradually gain access to them over a four year period at a rate yet to be decided.
Will we be barred from the Eurovision Song Contest?
Sophie from Peterborough, who asks the question, need not worry. We have consulted Alasdair Rendall, president of the UK Eurovision fan club, who says: “All participating countries must be a member of the European Broadcasting Union. The EBU – which is totally independent of the EU – includes countries both inside and outside of the EU, and also includes countries such as Israel that are outside of Europe. Indeed the UK started participating in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1957, 16 years before joining the then EEC.”
What impact will there be on house prices?
John, in London, is concerned about what will happen to house prices if “millions of EU citizens need to leave” the UK following the referendum, creating a flood of available housing. This is one of those questions where there is no clear-cut factual answer. But we can say that none of the main players are suggesting that citizens of other EU countries will be “sent packing” (to use John’s phrase) after the Leave vote. There are a host of other variables that have an impact on property prices, including things like interest rates and the general state of the economy.Media captionNow we’ve voted to leave the EU, are house prices really going to fall, asks Simon Gompertz
What is the ‘red tape’ that opponents of the EU complain about?
Ged, from Liverpool, suspects “red tape” is a euphemism for employment rights and environmental protection. According to the Open Europe think tank, four of the top five most costly EU regulations are either employment or environment-related. The UK renewable energy strategy, which the think-tank says costs £4.7bn a year, tops the list. The working time directive (£4.2bn a year) – which limits the working week to 48 hours – and the temporary agency workers directive (£2.1bn a year), giving temporary staff many of the same rights as permanent ones – are also on the list.
There is nothing to stop a future UK government reproducing these regulations in British law following the decision to leave the EU. And the costs of so-called “red tape” will not necessarily disappear overnight – if Britain opted to follow the “Norway model” and remained in the European Economic Area most of the EU-derived laws would remain in place.
Will Britain be party to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership?
Ste, in Bolton, asked about this. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – or TTIP – currently under negotiation between the EU and United States will create the biggest free trade area the world has ever seen.
Cheerleaders for TTIP, including David Cameron, believe it could make American imports cheaper and boost British exports to the US to the tune of £10bn a year.
But many on the left, including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, fear it will shift more power to multinational corporations, undermine public services, wreck food standards and threaten basic rights.
Quitting the EU means the UK would not be part of TTIP. It would have negotiate its own trade deal with the US.
What impact will leaving the EU have on the NHS?
Paddy, from Widnes, wanted to know how leaving the EU will affect the number of doctors we have and impact the NHS.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt warned that leaving the EU would lead to budget cuts and an exodus of overseas doctors and nurses. The Leave campaign dismissed his intervention as “scaremongering” and insisted that EU membership fees could be spent on domestic services like the NHS.
Former Labour health secretary Lord Owen has said that because of TTIP (see answer above) the only way to protect the NHS from further privatisation was to get out of the EU.
(CNN)The Orlando shooter and his wife exchanged text messages during the Pulse nightclub rampage, a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation told CNN.
Around 4 a.m. on June 12, about two hours after he started the attack and while holed up in a bathroom, Omar Mateen texted his wife, Noor Salman, asking if she’d seen the news, the official said.
At one point, she responded with a text saying that she loved him. Salman also tried calling her husband several times during the standoff, a second law enforcement official said.
The timing of her calls came after reports of the attack had emerged, and apparently after she realized her husband might be responsible. He didn’t answer, the official said.
It’s not clear if Salman made any attempt to report her husband during that time.
Salman is coming under increasing scrutiny as police investigate the killing of 49 people and wounding of at least 50 at the gay nightclub in Orlando. Authorities say Mateen carried out the killing with a Sig Sauer MCX semi-automatic assault-style rifle and a pistol.
Salman apparently gave conflicting accounts about what she knew of Mateen’s intentions in the hours before the attack. authorities said. She also told investigators that in the weeks before the attack, Mateen spent thousands of dollars, including for the guns used in the attack.
Mateen and Salman married in 2011. They have a 3-year-old son and lived in Fort Pierce, about two hours from the massacre.
A U.S. attorney plans to bring evidence before a federal grand jury to determine whether charges will be filed, two law enforcement officials said.
Mateen also vented on Facebook before and during the massacre.
“America and Russia stop bombing the Islamic state,” the gunman wrote, according to the chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
“You kill innocent women and children by doing us airstrikes … now taste the Islamic state vengeance.”
Then, in his final post, an ominous warning: ”In the next few days you will see attacks from the Islamic state in the usa.”
The messages were described in a letter from committee Chairman Ron Johnson to Mark Zuckerberg, asking the Facebook CEO to provide “all Facebook data on Mr. Mateen’s activities on his account and any affiliated Facebook accounts.”
It’s not the only time Mateen invoked ISIS during his rampage early Sunday. In the middle of killing 49 people, Mateen also called 911 to pledge allegiance to the terror group and CNN affiliate News 13 to say, “I did it for ISIS. I did it for the Islamic State.”
And an analysis of Mateen’s electronic devices showed searches for jihadist propaganda, including videos of ISIS beheadings, an official said.
Reported gun store visit
The owner of a Florida gun store said Thursday that employees contacted the FBI four or five weeks ago because they became suspicious when Mateen tried to purchase body armor and a large amount of ammunition.
Robert Abell of Lotus Gunworks in Jensen Beach said a man asked for soft and then hardened body armor but was told the store didn’t carry that merchandise.
During his visit, the man spoke on the phone to somebody in a foreign language and asked to buy 1,000 rounds of ammunition — a request the store turned down, Abell said.
Orlando GoFundMe breaks record01:49
The store called the FBI with the suspicions, Abell said, but didn’t know the man’s name.
The FBI investigated another incident reported by the gun store owner that coincided with Mateen’s possible visit, three law enforcement officials told CNN.
Agents originally looked into a call from the store about a group of suspicious foreign men appearing to be of Middle Eastern descent, who were buying police gear.
The FBI tracked down the men, who were visiting government security officers from a Middle Eastern country. The purchase was not deemed suspicious, the sources said.
When the FBI closed the matter with the store, an employee mentioned another unidentified suspicious man who days before had tried to buy Level 3 body armor.
There was no name or any purchase record to review. The FBI asked the person at the store if there was surveillance footage or a car description or license plate. There wasn’t.
After the shooting, store employees realized the man was Mateen, Abell said.
The FBI had no official comment on the matter when reached Thursday night.
Spokesmen for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Martin County Sheriff’s Office said the agencies don’t have any records of receiving calls from Lotus Gunworks.
ISIS, or personal conflict?
Witness: We thought gunshots were ‘part of the music’05:24
Despite mounting pledges of allegiance to ISIS, some say they believe Mateen was actually fueled by struggles with his sexuality — and may have latched on to ISIS as a vehicle for his anger.
Several regulars at the gay nightclub said the gunman visited frequently over the past few years. Cord Cedeno said Mateen saw him at Pulse and messaged him on Grindr, a gay dating app.
Cedeno said he wasn’t interested in Mateen, but his friend was.
Steve King: ‘Gays were targeted in Orlando, and it does matter’06:48
“One of my friends … has been speaking with him since 2007, on and off,” on another gay dating app, Cedeno said.
“(Mateen) sent him a picture of his private part, and my friend actually was attracted to him. He almost went and hooked up with him.”
FBI agents are interviewing people who claim they met the gunman on gay dating apps, a law enforcement official said. Those claims “certainly change the perspective,” the source said.
Was the Orlando shooter gay?01:54
CNN military analyst Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling said the gunman’s complex background makes the investigation challenging.
“I’m not a psychiatrist, but the struggle with his humanity, his sexuality, combined with the potential for putting the onus on an organization that’s asking people to do this — asking extremists to do these kinds of things — is an interesting dynamic,” he said.
“And that’s the thing that makes this case so extremely difficult.”
Ex-wife: I questioned his sexuality 02:01
The gunman’s ex-wife, Sitora Yusufiy, said she was not sure about his sexuality.
“It doesn’t surprise me that he might be gay,” she said. “And it doesn’t surprise me that he was leading two totally different lives and was in such deep conflict within himself.”
But the gunman’s father, Seddique Mateen, has said he didn’t think his son was gay. He emphasized that Mateen had a wife and child.
Throughout Orlando, survivors mourned the dead and recalled their experience.
Miguel Leiva shot cell phone video while huddled inside a bathroom with about 16 other people, he told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Thursday night.
The video showed people passing a cup of water around. One man was choking on his own blood, Leiva said. They whispered because they feared the gunman, who twice came back and fired his weapon, would return.
“I just remember you can smell the blood, there was so much blood,” Leiva said. “All my clothes was full of blood. We were sitting down and there was a huge puddle of blood.”
Only five or six people made it out alive, he said. Leiva was shot in the foot and leg.
“So many innocent people just there to have a good time.”