Vestnik Kavkaza, Russia
July 1 2013

1 July 2013 - 11:28am

David Stepanyan, Yerevan, exclusively to VK

The report on the costs of the state budget in 2012 presented on
June 13 by the Control Chamber (CC) of Armenia in the parliament
was the cause of a government scandal. Starting the report, the head
of the Communist Party Ishkhan Zakarian said that in many areas the
situation from year to year remains unchanged, highlighting egregious
cases of embezzlement of public funds in the fields of urban planning
and public procurement. The apogee of the speech by Zakarian was his
assertion that as much as 70% of the state budget is at risk...

After this report the issue of sending to the Prosecutor General
materials relating to the violations documented in the report of the CC
2012 was the subject of extensive discussion and requirements of MPs,
NGOs and human rights activists to send to the General Prosecutor's
Office under the criminal law violations in the areas of urban
development and road construction.

It is noteworthy that the Zakarian has not yet addressed to the
Prosecutor General in connection with the identified numerous
violations of his department. Meanwhile, under the relevant article of
the law, CC, as an independent government agency, may, on behalf of
the Republic of Armenia, address the court as plaintiff or defendant
and can send to the Prosecutor General's Office protocols and reports
produced in the course of supervision, if there is a suspicion of
criminal acts.

Given the lack of relevant application to the Prosecutor General after
12 days following the report by Zakarian, there are strong doubts
about the impartiality of CC's actions, which clearly serves a tool
in the hands of the ruling party. Suspecting the opposition of this is
clearly not reasonable, given that the latter is highly attenuated and
practically pushed out of the political process. Under the conditions
of existence of the nominal opposition the motivation of actions
of the CC head should be sought only within the framework of the
struggle within the ruling elite. At the same time, paradoxically, the
weakness of the opposition, in turn, weakened the power of vigilance,
instilling it a false sense of permissiveness.

The fact that the content of the report was in the hands of the prime
minister and became the subject of the next meeting of the government
proves that this issue is painful for the current cabinet. Tigran
Sarkisyan has said that he is personally very interested in the
immediate submission to the law enforcement authorities of all of the
facts revealed by the Control Chamber. However, Sarkisyan expressed
his opposition to the "excess of CC's powers and its political
assessments." In his opinion, the CC has no right to make political
statements, that, he says, is solely the function of the National
Assembly and the executive branch.

It is obvious that by questioning the efficiency of spending public
funds, the head of CC stepped on Sarkisian's toes, raising doubts about
the effectiveness of his cabinet, which has already become a political
assessment, not to mention its possible political consequences. As a
result, the prime minister attributed Zakarian's statement on exposure
to risks of corruption of 70% of the state budget "to every member
of the government in the audience," instructing that no charge will
be left unanswered.

It is noteworthy that after listening to the latest news from
Ishkhan Zakarian, Parliament Speaker Hovik Abrahamyan invited to
send immediately all the abuses identified by CC to the General
Prosecutor's Office. Abrahamyan also asked the Prime Minister to
dismiss "all those who rob and devour the state budget", however,
not agreeing with the fact that there is a systematic robbery.

The Republican Speaker was also incredibly surprised to hear about the
many abuses uncovered by CC, assuring the public that the head of the
Republican Party, President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan, offering the
position to someone, "does not call them by taking this position to
plunder the people's money". "I'm surprised, because we do not have
an agreement to occupy the post of the minister or the governor and
looting", Abrahamyan said.

Thus, the issues relating to this latest dark history are numerous,
and first of all to the debunker and bribery fighter Ishkhan Zakarian
who over the past 9 months built a mansion costing millions of
dollars. In reality, the report of the Control Chamber displays a
map of economic crimes in Armenia, which allows to collect dossiers,
including on millionaires sitting in parliament.

The wondering Abrahamyan himself in 20 years of being in public office
has become one of the largest property owners in Armenia. He owns
thousands of acres of orchards and vineyards in the Ararat region,
processors, large financial assets. And this list can be extended
indefinitely. As a result, Armenia can be considered a classic modern
country where 99% of the proceeds are disposed among only 1% of the
population, while the remaining 99% live on loans, from paycheck to
paycheck, at the mercy of the banks and the wealthy employers.

In this sense, it is noteworthy that until now protesters in the
Armenian political demands put forward only demands for change of
government and the rule of tyranny. In this case, the root of the
problem remained on the sidelines, although it is more than obvious
that the usurpation of power in Armenia was made possible precisely
by the unjust distribution of national wealth. And just today, the
public openly wondered main question - how the current government
got public assets previously owned by the whole of society? Taron
Margaryan, Ruben Hayrapetyan, Vardan Ayvazyan, Prime Minister Tigran
Sarkisyan are forced to report how they earned their millions. And
the statement by Ishkhan Zakarian that 70% of the Armenian budget
are in the area of corruption risk is just the tip of the iceberg of
contradictions in this pyramid.

And the main conclusion is on the surface: another redistribution of
property will come to Armenia when the oligarchs who do not manage to
"prove their rights" have to give up part of their loot in favor of
... the other oligarchs. Given the amorphous nature of opposition and
the public, expecting the invoice to all oligarchs and demands for the
nationalization of illegally captured national assets is not necessary.