77 year-old Norik Kocharyan was elected mayor of Dsegh village on September 9. He’s a local resident with a great deal of managerial experience.
A graduate of the Yerevan Polytechnical Institute, Kocharyan has worked as a engineer with the Lincy Foundation in Armenia.
Kocharyan’s campaign office, in a s6tatement to Hetq, alleges that former Mayor Garnik Hovsepyan handed out bribes to certain residents under the guise of financial assistance.
Kocharyan’s staff claims that on August 24 Hovsepyan called a meeting of the village council and passed the suspect decision that took money from the local budget for the purpose.
Our research shows that 4 of the 6 council members attended the August 24 session. Two of council members signed the affidavit allowing for the assistance. One council member remained neutral and the other didn’t sign.
Norik Kocharyan argues that the two decisions allowing for the financial assistance must be regarded as invalid given that only 1/3 of the council approved them.
The two decisions allowed for the following financial assistance to be handed out smack dab during the election campaign: Resident Marineh Yeghikyan got 185,000 AMD, Ani Yeghikyan got 225,000, Sona Sargsyan - 150,000, Ani Ramazyan - 90,000, Vardouhie Yeghikyan - 200,000, and so on.
Regarding the two decisions, Garnik Hovsepyan told Hetq that the assistance wasn’t given so that the recipients would put it in their pockets. "Maybe it wasn’t the right thing to do. But the reality is that we took money from students in order to pay the required taxes, so that in the future the amounts could be transferred as their tuition."
Hovsepyan says that everything was above board and that even Armenia’s prime minister has set up a fund to help needy students.
Nevertheless, what Hovsepyan did, allocating 2.8 million from the village budget during the campaign, was a violation.
Hovsepyan remains unconvinced and states that two birds were killed with te one stone - tax obligations were met and needy students helped.
However, the question remains as to what benefit is accrued to the student if their tuition fees are collected by the village and later returned in the form of assistance? Hovsepyan had no answer.
All he said was that the Dsegh community budget for this year is 39 million AMD.