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Kristine Aghalaryan

Armenia’s Deputy Minister of Environment Washes Hands of Tanzania Monkey Trafficking Case

Armenia’s Deputy Minister of Nature Protection Khachik Hakobyan employed legalese to argue that the ministry could play no part in the case involving two Armenian brothers arrested on March 23 in Tanzania when they attempted to smuggle 61 monkeys out of the country.

When this reporter asked Hakobyan, who was speaking at a CITES meeting/seminar in Yerevan, if the ministry was involved in any way in the case of Artyom and Edward Vardanyan, the deputy minister answered: “The case deals with a specific physical person and his commercial activities, in which illegalities were uncovered. The case received a corresponding legal response. Naturally, Armenia’s Ministry of Nature Protection, or any other body, I believe, has nothing to do here.”

Meeting in Yerevan from August 24-26, Armenia’s CITES coordinators are gearing up for the CITES annual conference to be held in Johannesburg in September. Armenia as a signatory to CITES will be participating.

The Yerevan meeting also seeks to create greater cooperation regarding animal protection amongst Eurasian countries.

When this reporter asked if the Johannesburg conference would discuss any issues related to Armenia, IFAW-Russia representative Maria Vorontsova said she could think of no such issue.

Ruben Khachatryan, Director of the Yerevan Zoo, noted that of late Armenia has been associated with the illegal trafficking of wild animals. He confessed that the zoo also engaged in the practice prior to 2011.

“This isn’t a local problem, but a global one, both in Armenia and outside,” said Khachatryan.

Photo (from left): Ruben Khachatryan, Khachik Hakobyan, Maria Vorontsova

Photo credit: Hrant Galstyan