Independent experts say corruption has increased
in the past five years in Armenia.
"The main perpetrators of corruption in
Armenia are State officials," says a report
from the Armenian branch of the Regional Development
Centre (Transparency International), which conducted
a survey last year to estimate the prevalence
and exposure of corruption in Armenia.
The results of the survey are based on information
gathered from 1,000 individuals, 200 private entrepreneurs
and 200 officials.
Arevik Saribekyan, head of the Anticorruption
Information Centre, summarized the results:
"Sixty-seven percent of the individuals,
41 percent of the entrepreneurs and 54 percent
of the state officials who took part in the survey
mentioned that the level of corruption has increased
during the last five years.
"The individuals and entrepreneurs defined
corruption as bribery and abuse of position. State
officials added to that also 'provision of economic
monopoly and other privileges, and use of the
State resources for personal interest', perhaps
because they are better informed on the corruption
possibilities that are present in the State management
The part of the inquiry concerning State institutions
revealed that the most corrupt are courts and
prosecutors' offices. But nearly every office,
from the President to the education system were
The main causes of corruption, the survey found
is "misuse of the law, imperfect legislation,
unfavorable social-economic state, etc."
Whether the February 19th elections will contribute
solutions to corruption and other problems depends
entirely on the people, on the extent to which
they will be able to defend their votes.
Potential voters in a ProMedia survey reflected
the findings of the Transparency International
study, naming corruption as a primary campaign
Arman Sharafyan, 31: "We demand elimination
of corruption, as our society is up to its ears
Bardughimeos Petrosyan, 25: "The infinite
amount of corruption is the reason of the worst
consequences in our country. I think that insatiable
people should be restrained by the power of justice
Zhora Petrosyan, 68: "All bribe takers should
be indiscriminately punished. When will the tradition
of employing people by bribes disappear?"
Nazeli Harutyunyan: "The struggle against
bribery has become fatal. What leverages does
the President have and how can he struggle against
According to Transparency International specialists,
one of the most dangerous manifestations of their
survey is that few said they would report incidences
of corruption to corresponding bodies, as they
were not sure whether the one who took the bribe
or the one who gave it would be called to account.
Though the official survey and the informal media
interviews show corruption as a voter concern,
the issue is not a key element of candidate dialogue.
"After seeing press publications and paid
telecasting I cannot tell that the candidates
emphasize the struggle against corruption,"
says Varuzhan Hogtanyan, political expert of Armenian
branch of the Regional Development Centre (Transparency
International). "The candidates speak more
about ensuring free and fair elections, than strategic
In the opinion of specialists people's attitude
towards manifestations of corruption must change
before the issue itself will be resolved. Instead
of blaming others each person should personally
bear a responsibility for the situation in the
country, they say. Otherwise no State or public
project can produce results.
Citizens of the Republic will have such an opportunity
on February 19, when, if history is repeated,
offers will be made to buy votes for 5000 drams
(about $10) or bartered for rice or oil.