Wednesday, 19 September

Why Doesn’t President Serzh Sargsyan Sack Crooked and Inept Officials?

This question is frequently posed by various political figures and players, especially those hailing from the ruling Republican Party. They just cannot understand how numerous officials, caught with their hands in the state “cookie jar” or found to be involved in various nefarious affairs, remain unscathed, working at their old job, often seen rubbing shoulders with President Sargsyan.

Every time the RoA Control Chamber issues a report or study, you can bet there are several top officials, including ministers, that should be sacked, if not brought up on criminal charges as well. Let’s merely recall the millions squandered recently by the Ministry of Culture. A portion of the funds has never been recovered and I believe the government can kiss that money “bye-bye”. Nevertheless Minister Hasmik Poghosyan continues at her post. Can anyone explain why President Sargsyan hasn’t dismissed her for such inadequate oversight? Last week the Prosecutor General’s Office issued a statement that criminal cases had been initiated against companies responsible for clean-up work on the shores of Lake Sevan. The work contract was won by three companies in the normal manner – the deal was fixed from the start. The companies went too far though and pocketed a chunk of the money rather than doing the assigned job. Later, we find out that officials from the Ministry of Nature Protection signed off on the work reports as if all was going fine. Another taxpayer rip-off swept under the rug by corrupt officials. Let’s face it; you don’t actually believe that all this was done without bribes being handed out One month ago the chief and his deputy at the Environmental Inspectorate at this same Ministry were charged with bribe taking. They’ve been taking bribes for years. This is how it works when inspectorate employees go around to various places of business making inspections – palms get greased. The deputy ministers knew what was going on and, of course, so did the minister. Naturally, they got their share of the “take”; it couldn’t be otherwise. During the past months, evidence of illegal logging and tree cutting in Armenia’s remaining forests has been recorded and the ministry merely makes a daily note. What is compelling President Sargsyan from keeping the Nature Minister in office? Is it that President Sargsyan can’t run the country without this minister? There is no logical answer to this frequently asked question. A possible explanation occurred years ago when Serzh Sargsyan was Armenia’s Minister of Defense. This reporter was talking with an army general. We were discussing certain abuses linked to another top officer, General Yuri Khachaturov. I asked why it was that Minister Sargsyan didn’t remove Khachaturov for misconduct. The general I was talking with categorically retorted, “Serzh Sargsyan doesn’t sacrifice his people.” Fine; but if that’s the case why should the public suffer? Maybe this is what President Sargsyan ponders as he walks alone on the shores of Sevan.

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