Why anti-corruption protests are rising in Armenia?


Vestnik Kavkaza – On July 17, 2016, 12 Armenian anti-government activists raided a police station in Yerevan and took nine police officers hostage. After storming the station, the hostage takers urged the Armenian government to release right-wing opposition leader Jarir Sefilian from prison and called for Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan’s immediate resignation. Even though Sefilian’s New Armenia Salvation Front is only a fringe party, many Armenians expressed solidarity with the hostage takers’ scathing criticisms of government corruption. While corruption has been a defining characteristic of Armenian politics for decades, the summer 2015 Electric Yerevan protests revealed that Armenians are increasingly willing to participate in anti-corruption demonstrations.

In response to growing outrage with state corruption, Sargsyan granted sweeping powers to a new anti-corruption council in July 2015. However, this council’s actions have not assuaged popular concerns. Corruption allegations against members of Sargsyan’s inner circle have shaken public confidence in his government.

Corruption Allegations Against Sargsyan’s Inner Circle

Even though Sargsyan’s recent public speeches have emphasized his desire to combat corruption in Armenia, the actions of the president and members of his inner circle have frequently contradicted his anti-corruption rhetoric. In August 2015, the head of Armenia’s anti-corruption council, Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan, was embarrassed by a Civilnet.am report, which revealed that Abrahamyan had used government funds to pay for numerous high-cost private flights.

Abrahamyan was a questionable choice to head Armenia’s anti-corruption council due to his ownership of private companies, gas stations, casinos and vast investment properties, while serving as Prime Minister. The Armenian constitution’s conflict of interest clause forbids government officials from signing business deals for personal enrichment while in office. Extensive media coverage of Abrahamyan’s flagrant violations of Armenian law caused public confidence in his anti-corruption council to plummet just weeks after its creation.

total text: http://vestnikkavkaza.net/analysis/Why-Anti-Corruption-Protests-Are-Rising-In-Armenia.html


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