Along the vein of the recent posts on Armenian’s oligarchs is Armenia’s corruption problem. Everyone talks about how rampant and myriad the corruption is. Transparency International gave Armenia a 2.6 out of 10 (with 1 being the most corrupt), or 129th in the world, in its annual Corruption Perceptions Index. 82% of Armenians view corruption to be a serious problem and two third think it’s “a fact of everyday life.” While distressing to hear, it’s a positive sign that the former Chief of Police was sentenced to six years in prison for corruption. Using the logic of the Oligarch vs. Oligarch post, either the Chief of Police pissed off the wrong person or was caught taking far more than his “fair share” from the cookie jar. His sentencing is still a positive sign, but it is not indicative of an anti-corruption revolution.
Hetq is reviewing the finances of elite government officials and noting how their wealth grows by leaps and bounds above their official income. So far they’ve called out the National Assembly President, Minister of Environment, a Bishop, the top tax official and his wife, and most distressing from a legal perspective, the President of the Court of Cassation (i.e. Armenia’s Supreme Court). Whether these journalistic investigations will turn into institutional or even criminal investigations is another question.
In contrast, Georgia recently received an award from the UN for its public service, in part of because its prevention of corruption. One of the slogans during Georgia’s Rose Revolution was “Georgia without corruption” and the post-revolution Georgia took the idea to heart. Transparency International gives Georgia a 4.1 out of 10 or 64th in the world. Armenians say that Georgia solved its corruption problem through a massive internal sweep—literally parking police buses in front of government ministries and arresting scores of corrupt civil servants. It’s unlikely that Armenia will do that anytime soon.