Ani Hovhannisyan

Holiday Gift Parcels: Salami and Vodka to Justice Ministry from Anonymous Donors

As a New Year’s gift, Armenia’s Ministry of Justice handed out parcels of salami and ham, produced by a company owned by the father of Garush Davtyan, who heads the ministry’s Agency of the Public Register of Legal Entities, to its employees.

In addition to the cold cuts, ministry employees received Belaya Beryozka vodka, imported to Armenia by Sovrano LLC, a company owned by Republican Party of Armenia MP Arman Sahakyan.

The ham and salami are produced by Luma LLC, based in Abovyan, and 70% owned by Sevak Davtyan; Garush Davtyan’s father. The cold cuts aren’t sold in Yerevan stores. There only available in Abovyan and at a factory outlet.

There isn’t much about the company on the internet, other than it was one of the 21 companies in Armenia cited for serious manufacturing violations by the State Commission for Economic Protection.

Luma company plant in Abovyan (Photo: Narek Aleksanyan)

Hetq tried to ascertain whether the ministry purchased the cold cuts from the company owned by Garush Davtyan’s father, since this would constitute a conflict of interest.

The ministry responded that the items had been donated, and that 250 employees received holiday parcels containing the meats and vodka.

“The holiday parcels distributed to employees by the ministry were supplied by various donors who wished to remain anonymous,” read a section of the ministry’s response.

So, what is all this vodka and meat worth? In stores, the Pikantnaya salami brand sells for 2,100 drams; 2,400 in the market. The ham fillet goes for 3,800 drams per kilo in stores and 4,100 drams in Abovyan. One bottle of the vodka ranges from 2,750-2,990 drams.  

Thus, these “anonymous donors” supplied items worth AMD 2.267 million to the Ministry of Justice.

While the ministry, in its response, went out of its way to assure Hetq that no taxpayer money was used to acquire these holiday parcels, it overlooks the fact that public servants are not allowed to receive any gifts. It’s a violation of Article 29 of the Law on Civil Service.

Not only has the ministry accepted gifts, banned by the law, it’s also keeping the names of these donors a secret. Hetq went to the companies involved to find out whether they did indeed “donate” the items as claimed by the ministry.

Sovrano LLC owner MP Arman Sahakyan told Hetq that he personally hadn’t donated anything. Company Director Garnik Kirakosyan said it wasn’t accepted practice, adding, “But the item is in all the stores and wholesalers. The company, however, hasn’t donated anything. That’s a fact.”

After checking the company’s account ledgers, Kirakosyan said that the Ministry of Justice hadn’t purchased anything from them.

As for Luma, for the past two days the office has told Hetq that Director Sevak Davtyan is away from his desk, but in Armenia We haven’t been able to reach Davtyan by phone. Our calls never go through; he’s “unavailable”.

Top photo (from left): Minister of Justice Davit Harutyunyan, Agency of the Public Register of Legal Entities’ Head Garush Davtyan