“It's not a secret that many community heads abuse their position and use it for incomprehensible and unacceptable revenues, from the fact that they have been expropriating the lands belonging to communities in different ways, showing disrespect towards community budgets. I do not go in details as this conversation is very unpleasant to me. One thing I just want to say. We have been very forgiving to community heads. We have been forgiving because we considered that this institution should develop and some bad manifestations can be possible during this period.”
This statement was unequivocally accepted and much criticism was sounded that in this way corruption in the local self-governance system was encouraged at the highest level.
During the discussion entitled “Is Forgiving Heads of Communities a Recovery of Local Self - Government System or Promotion of Corruption? Response to Serj Sargsyan’s Speech”, Garik Sargsyan, Head of Nor Kyanq Community, says that they have not felt the consequences of Serj Sargsyan’s statement.
“I, of course, welcomed Serzh Sargsyan's willingness to no longer forgive the community heads and not allow such behavior. At present, there are criminal cases in the prosecutor's office about the former head of our community and the kindergarten director of the community, in the case of the latter is disputed, the articles of official forgery, let these cases be properly examined, then we can state that President’s words had an impact.”
Rustam Badasyan, Advocate, says that the issues are not personal but institutional:
“For example, a criminal case has been initiated on the case of Kindergarten in Nor Kyanq, and the problem of grafting in kindergarten is being discussed. This does not mean that the director of the kindergarten is responsible for the appropriations. It can be found out that the kindergarten director, as an official, has at least some responsibility but at the same time the head of the same community may be responsible for the crime.”
Armen Grigoryan, Coordinator of the Electoral Programs at Transparency International Anticorruption Center, says that Serj Sargsyan's statements are difficult to take seriously, as it has been proven repeatedly by his words and actions. However, in his opinion, every time you need to fix what he said and go ahead.
“The criminal cases are more Soviet-style cases. Criminal cases are spoken about and punished when there is a specific instruction. Meanwhile, these bodies should do their work without a directive. By choosing and punishing a few people, the issues of justice and fight against corruption are not solved,” the speaker said. “At the same time, stating about the criminal cases does not mean that it will receive a final result. There is a previous experience when, for example, Mihran Poghosyan resigned for the corruption scandal, but after a while he was elected as a member of the ruling political party. In this case, a criminal case may be initiated against the community leaders but after a while they may appear in a higher position.”
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Derenik Malkhasyan, editor/events coordinator at “Media Center”
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